University in talks with Egypt over future of ancient mummy


UNIVERSITY COLLEGE Cork is in talks with the Egyptian embassy regarding the conservation of an ancient mummy found at the university during reconstruction work in 1970.

The Great Egyptian Museum at Giza, designed by Dublin architects Heneghan Peng, is scheduled to open in 2013. It will house some 50,000 Egyptian artefacts, including some whose return is being sought from European countries.

The mummy located at the university in Cork, which has been dated to the period 305-30BC, was found hidden under the floorboards in the pathology department at UCC during reconstruction work in 1970 but mystery surrounds how the mummy and a coffin came to the Cork university

Yesterday, UCC curator Michael Holland told The Irish Timesthe university had been in contact with officials from the Egyptian embassy in Dublin.

The mummy is stored in the Boole Library with other items in its small collection of Egyptian artefacts. Mr Holland said the collection also included a coffin and canopic jars used during the mummification process to store and preserve the viscera of their owner for the afterlife but that the jars in the university collection were empty.

The collection, acquired by the university in the late 19th or early 20th century when it was Queen’s College Cork, has been the subject of inquiries from the embassy as Egypt seeks the repatriation of artefacts for a new museum.

“UCC looks forward to discussing the matter of proposed relationships between Egypt and cultural and academic institutions such as UCC, and with similar institutions in Egypt,” Mr Holland said in a statement yesterday.

A UCC spokeswoman said the outcome would depend on what was agreed between the university and the embassy.

Karim Moukhtar, second secretary at the Egyptian embassy in Dublin, told The Irish Times the embassy was waiting for a report on the state of the mummy and the coffin before forwarding the details to the antiquities council in Egypt.

The mummy is that of a man aged 45-50 years from the upper echelons of Egyptian society who appeared to have died from natural causes and who can be dated to the Ptolemaic Roman Period from 305BC to AD 500.