museum review - Mummy: The Inside Story, Mumbai
Written by Oryx
Visitors to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) in Mumbai can get an inside view of an Egyptian mummy for the first time at the ‘Mummy: The Inside Story’ exhibition, until March 24, 2013.
The exhibition will take visitors on a 3D immersive experience into the coffin of Nesperennub, a priest who lived and died in Egypt nearly 3,000 years ago. The exhibition uses non-invasive techniques – X-rays, CT scans, and advanced computer technology – to take visitors through a ‘virtual unwrap’, a 3D journey combined with dramatic reconstructions of the priest’s life and mummification in ancient Egypt, portraying its every feature using a forensic approach.
Comprising artefacts from the Egyptian Collection of the British Museum, and high-tech visuals that untangle the mystery of mummification through 3D films, this exhibition centres around Nesperennub’s mummy, its cartonnage case, and an array of funerary objects and figurines.
The 3D ‘unwrapping’ of Nesperennub has provided a unique insight into the complex process of mummification and life in ancient Egypt, and it has even been possible to reconstruct Nesperennub’s likely appearance using CT scans to replicate his skull and build a model of his face.
Nesperennub lived nearly 3,000 years ago in Thebes, one of the greatest cities in ancient Egypt, full of temples and grand palaces. The text on the cartonnage case reveals that Nesperennub and his father worked as priests in the great religious complex of Karnak.
Nesperennub died aged approximately 40 years old. His skull shows a small, unexplained hole above the left eye, which might indicate an illness that could have proved fatal. After death Nesperennub would have had his organs removed, except for the heart, before being embalmed with resin. Next the corpse was decorated with pieces of jewellery – the X-rays show rings on both hands – as well as amulets.
The body was wrapped, then placed inside its cartonnage case – layers of linen covered with glue or plaster, then left to set hard. The cartonnage case is brightly painted: at the top the scarab beetle with a falcon’s head is the sun god Ra. Under this the god Sokar is shown as a mummified falcon. Lower down, a yellow dome with two feathers coming from the top is a sign of the god Osiris. Osiris and Ra were thought to hold the key to life after death. The case was placed inside a coffin with Nesperennub’s face and hieroglyphs painted on the outside.
The exhibition is presented through a collaboration between the British Museum and CSMVS, and is brought to Mumbai by BP and Reliance Foundation.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India, was originally built as a memorial to the visit of the Prince of Wales (later King George V) in the form of a public museum. The building was completed in 1914, but it opened to the public much later, in 1922. Designed by British architect George Wittet in 1909, the museum building is a Grade I heritage structure housing a multicultural collection of artefacts from Asia and Europe, and is an important heritage building of the city.