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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Before a Grand Parade of Mummies, Researchers Learned Much About Them

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CAIRO—In a grand ceremonial parade on Saturday, Egyptian authorities moved 22 ancient royal mummies in specially designed capsules across the capital from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, in central Cairo, to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat, about 7 kilometers to the southeast.

“The Pharaohs’ Golden Parade” took around an hour to transfer the mummies under tight security. However, this was preceded by months of diligent work by an Egyptian research team that examined the mummies using computerized tomography, or CT scans, anthropological sciences, and molecular genetics in order to ensure that they could be safely conveyed to their new dwelling and be displayed properly.

“Our work is focused on better understanding our ancestors’ past and history in a scientific way,” Zahi Hawass, an Egyptian archaeologist and one of the founders of the Egyptian Mummy Project, said in a telephone interview. He added that “the project team examined the mummy of Tutankhamun, in addition to 21 royal mummies, including that of Ramses II,” also known as Ramses the Great.

Hawass, who once served as minister of state for Egyptian antiquities, explained that his team had succeeded in rediscovering details about the lives and deaths of most of these mummies, especially the Pharaohs Seqenenre-Taa-II and Ramses III.

CT studies indicated that Seqenenre was captured and executed in battle in the sixteenth century B.C., and that Ramses III was killed by multiple assassins in the tenth century B.C., probably as a result of a conspiracy between one of his wives and a son.

A Voluntary Effort

Led by Hawass, a number of Egyptian researchers founded the Egyptian Mummy Project about 16 years ago. The project, self-funded by its members, has presented scientific studies on dozens of mummies that were published in many scientific periodicals and had a role in uncovering family relations between mummies, their genetic sequencing, and the real causes of death for some of them.

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