Mummy Returns: Hyderabad Gets Back Its Treasure


Hyderabad: Indian scientists and archaeologists have finally restored the mummified remains of princess Naishu, whose final resting place is the State Archaeology Museum in Hyderabad.

The team which embarked on the tedious restoration project, was led by Anupam Sah, the head conservator of Mumbai’s Prince of Wales Museum, and comprised 10 other experts.

Speaking about the project, N R Visalatchy , director, Telangana Department of archaeology and museums, said that while the technical part of the process was completed towards the end of April, the mummy has just been restored to its prime.

“There were several rounds of inspections and it was found that the exterior wrappings of the mummy were peeling off, and had to be amalgamated immediately. But, owing to the delicate nature of the artefact, we had to go in for non-invasive measures,” she said.

Elaborating on the intricate process that was involved in restoring the mummy , Visalatchy said that experts thought it best to wrap the mummy in a material that was closest to the linen that was used during her mummification. “In order to prevent further degradation, the expert panel had to conduct a detox procedure and then, restore the fragile cloth in which it was originally wrapped in.However, there were a few cracks in the cartonnage (headgear) which covered its face,” she told TOI.

Officials, who were involved in the process, said the mummy was said the mummy was kept in a wooden and glass showcase, with a dark blue velvet fabric that was damaged. The linen strips had disintegrated and fallen apart all along the mummy , more towards the head, toes and base. The team began the restoration process by study ing samples of the linen and embalming fluids that were used thousands of years ago.”Tiny samples of the paint and linen were collected from the fallen debris around the mummy . We also found dead insects, identified as beetles, around the body ,” Visalatchy said.

Flaking paint and cracks were consolidated using conservation materials. ” A ster ile gauze was used to hold remains of the skull together. Later, a fine polyester net was used for wrapping the mummy as the linen layers were degraded,” she said.After wrapping the mummy , a temporary padding (Ethafoam) about 1.5 inches thick was placed as a cushion in its existing showcase.

The mummy was then subjected to CT scans and Xrays which revealed that the carcass belonged to a woman, about 25 years of age, with a height of 136 cm. The scans also showed the brain and other organs had been removed during mummification. A report released by the department said the ribs were damaged and there was dislocation along the spine and one ankle. “The rest of the bones, skull and teeth are intact. There is probably a metallic amulet inside her body ,” it said. While a lot of degradation could be attributed to heat, light and insects, officials say that they will procure a special temperature-controlled case to prevent any more damage.