Conservation of the Perth Mummy, Ta-Kr-Hb, is now well underway as the centre-piece of the current installation in Perth Museum & Art Gallery, Conservation in Action: Saving the Perth Mummy. This work is an essential part of the conservation preparation ahead of the collections redisplay in the new City Hall Museum currently being developed for Perth.
For the first time in over 100 years, Ta-Kr-Hb has been lifted out of her coffin so that she can be fully assessed. The lower part of the coffin (the trough) is a forensically rich environment that features soils, plants, and insects. The conservation team at the museum are confident that the scientific analysis of this material, and also of the resin used to cover the bandages, will reveal more details about the mummification of Ta-Kr-Hb and the places her body was kept in.
Perhaps the most exciting development is the discovery of painted figures on the internal and external bases of the trough. Both figures are representations of the Egyptian goddess, Amentet or Imentet, known as the ‘She of the West’ or sometimes as ‘Lady of the West’. The West here may be a geographical allusion but it is primarily a mythological, supernatural reference.
The best preserved of the two paintings, however, is on the interior base of the coffin trough and previously hidden by Ta-Kr-Hb. It shows Imentet in profile, looking right and wearing her typical red dress. Her arms are slightly outstretched and she is standing on a platform, indicating the depiction is of a holy statue or processional figure. Usually, the platform is supported by a pole or column and one of these can be seen on the underside of the coffin trough.
The platform and supporting pole are very clear, as is the torso in its red dress, with ribbons draping her arms, but unfortunately, the feet, legs, and head are missing in the painting.
Conservators Helena and Richard Jaeschke have been working closely with Culture Perth and Kinross on Conservation in Action.
“As conservators, we are always thrilled to work so closely with an object. For the ancient Egyptians, the preservation of the body was very important, so we are sure that Ta-Kr-Hb would be very pleased to see the care that is being taken to protect and care for her remains. Although both the mummy and the coffin have suffered badly during the centuries in the tomb, from grave-robbers searching for amulets to flash floods that washed mud and debris onto the painted coffin, they have survived remarkably well and need careful, patient conservation treatment to enable them to survive for many more years and allow everyone to see the beautiful paintwork on the coffin.”
Conservation in Action: Saving the Perth Mummy marks the first time that Perth Museum & Art Gallery has hosted this style of display, bringing rarely observed conservation activities into the public domain, enabling visitors to have a close-up view of this crucial work.
Local cultural charity, Culture Perth and Kinross is urgently campaigning to raise money for the conservation of Ta-Kr-Hb as she prepares to go on display at the redeveloped City Hall Museum in 2022.
To donate, please visit our JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/CPKmummy All donations will help guarantee a future for this ancient, unique and much-loved Mummy.