SE­CRETS OF THE MUMMY

The lives of an­cient Egyp­tians and Greeks are ex­plained at a new gallery open­ing in Maid­stone. And it’s all down to one wo­man – Kent’s only adult mummy, as An­gela Cole finds out

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - What's On - - EXHIBITIONS -

The sights, sounds and even smells of an an­cient world will greet vis­i­tors to a new gallery open­ing in Maid­stone. Step through the doors of Maid­stone Mu­seum from next week and you’ll be step­ping back thou­sands of years into the world of Egyp­tians and Greeks.

And the wo­man to in­spire it all was Ta-kush, the mummy.

Although she had long been on show at the St Faiths Street mu­seum, last year she un­der­went de­tailed anal­y­sis us­ing the lat­est tech­nol­ogy which re­vealed her age and what she would have looked like. CT scans at KIMS Hospi­tal in Maid­stone found her to be more than 2,700 years old. Liver­pool John Moores Univer­sity also an­a­lysed the scans to cre­ate a fa­cial re­con­struc­tion of what she might have looked like.

Vis­i­tors to the new gallery, cre­ated as part of a ma­jor re­fur­bish­ment project at the mu­seum, will be able to hear her story, as well as ex­plore the rich and di­verse lives of ev­ery­day Egyp­tians and Greeks through a se­ries of themed dis­plays and in­ter­ac­tive sta­tions.

They will also be able to see Ta-kush’s cof­fin lid with its coloured in­te­rior show­ing the god­dess Nut, which will be on dis­play for the first time.

You’ll be able to learn about the meth­ods used to learn more about her life, in­clud­ing the CT scans and a short film about how she ar­rived at Maid­stone.

Lyn Palmer, pub­lic pro­gram­ming man­ager at Maid­stone Mu­seum, said: “We are ex­cited to un­veil the new An­cient Lives gallery as a fan­tas­tic space that will in­form and en­ter­tain.”

The new gallery and re­fur­bish­ment work has been made pos­si­ble by a £78,000 grant from the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund. Items from the gallery were also scanned in­clud­ing what had been thought to be a mum­mi­fied hawk, but which was dis­cov­ered to be a 20-week foe­tus, one of the youngest hu­man mum­mies recorded in the world.

Thanks to the lat­est tech­nol­ogy, the in­ves­ti­ga­tions were car­ried out with the min­i­mum dis­rup­tion to the arte­facts.

KENT’S LARGEST

Maid­stone Mu­seum holds more than 600,000 arte­facts and spec­i­mens, mak­ing it the largest col­lec­tion in Kent. It in­cludes items from North and South Amer­ica, the Pa­cific and Aus­trala­sia. There are more than 6,000 paint­ings and prints and draw­ings and sculp­ture by Ep­stein and Moore. There are also medals and mem­o­ra­bilia from the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Reg­i­men­tal col­lec­tion, as well as 40,000 fos­sils in­clud­ing the re­mains of Maid­stone’s very own di­nosaur, the iguan­odon. The re­fur­bish­ment project to cre­ate the An­cient Lives Gallery was made pos­si­ble by a Her­itage Lot­tery Fund grant, the Maid­stone Mu­se­ums Foun­da­tion and lo­cal donors. The mu­seum worked with Kent As­so­ci­a­tion for the Blind to make sure the space was suit­able for vi­su­al­ly­im­paired vis­i­tors and also in­cludes a new lift and ramps to im­prove ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

Ta-kush was the in­spi­ra­tion for the new gallery

Pic­ture: Maid­stone Mu­seum

Ta-kush’s sar­coph­a­gus

Pic­ture: Peter Dixon

The mummy went through de­tailed anal­y­sis re­veal­ing her age and what she looked like

Lady Go­diva is an im­pres­sive sight

Pic­ture: Peter Dixon

Ta-kush in the CT scan

The re­con­struc­tion of the iguan­odon

Pic­ture: Peter Dixon

Ta-kush un­der­goes tests

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