This week, I started to work on the treatment of our mummy PUM I‘s linen wrappings. Poor PUM I – not only is his body quite deteriorated and in multiple pieces, but his linen wrappings are also fragmentary and very fragile. Some of linen in the worst condition are the pieces that once covered his chest, which were cut off during the 1972 autopsy.
This rectangular section of textiles was cut away as a single unit during the 1972 autopsy.
In addition to the mechanical damage caused by the autopsy, the linen has suffered from insect damage and it is significantly stained and embrittled in areas, likely due in part to deterioration of the human remains they were once in contact with.
Removing the wrappings (left) and the chest wrappings after removal (right)
While this linen is in poor condition, it can be moved as a single unit, so we removed it for treatment. The goal of the current treatment is to keep the linen layers in this section together; to prevent them from slipping out of alignment and to prevent the linen from continuing to tear and deteriorate even more.
After vacuuming the linen thoroughly, I got to work relaxing distorted areas and realigning tears.
Local humidification of the linen in progress, using damp blotter and Gore-Tex
To realign tears, I bridged these areas from behind with small pieces of Japanese tissue paper, adhered in place with methylcellulose adhesive. The methylcellulose works well because it sets very quickly with only a small amount of pressure from my finger or a spatula.
One side of the wrappings before (left) and after (right) humidification and tear repair
The other side of the chest wrappings before (left) and after (right) tear repair
This is only the beginning of the treatment on PUM I’s wrappings, but I think they are already looking better!