Update – this post contains outdated language. We no longer use the term “mummy” and instead use “mummified human individuals” to refer to Ancient Egyptian people whose bodies were preserved for the afterlife. To read more about this decision, follow this link.
We have had this object in the collection since 1890:
This painted cartonnage pectoral (E352) was made as a covering for the chest of a mummy, and dates to the Ptolemaic Period (ca. 200 BCE). We don’t have the mummy or any other items from the person’s burial, so we don’t know anything about who this belongs to other than that they were buried with this beautiful piece (and likely an equally nice mask, and leg and foot coverings).
This artifact was previously on display in our Secrets and Science gallery and is now in the lab for conservation treatment. It was displayed vertically for over three decades, but since it has come into the lab, we have removed it from the old mount to allow for a full examination, documentation, and treatment.
Multispectral imaging allowed us to identify the Egyptian blue paint used for all of the blue decoration:
We have written about the unique luminescence of Egyptian blue before on this blog, and in the image on the right, above, we can clearly see where it was used to decorate this pectoral.
Conservation treatment so far has included consolidation of the flaking paint with methyl cellulose, carried out under the binocular microscope.
I have also been filling small losses with a mixture of Klucel G and glass microballoons, and backing weak areas with Japanese tissue paper.
Here is a link to a mini-slideshow that shows a small section of the cartonnage under 7.5X magnification (the same section seen in the image above). The slidehow shows how I filled a tiny hole with the Klucel mixture, which then allowed me to readhere a tiny fragment of red paint. The change is subtle – see if you can spot where I reattached the paint flake!