Powered by Guardian.co.ukNo tsab xov xwm hu “Iyiv mummy emerges ntawm lub hleb thawj zaug hauv 2,300 xyoo” yog sau los ntawm Alan Yuhas nyob New York, rau theguardian.com rau hlis ntuj nqeg Friday 12th 2014 05.00 UTC

Ib mummy emerged los ntawm nws lub hleb thawj zaug hauv 2,300 xyoo no lub lis piam tom qab ob peb ceeb moments ua zaum lifted lub hau ntoo.

Lub cev, ua tib zoo rho los rau ntawm lub box ancient los txhawj koj JP xim av thiab peb lwm zaum nyob Chicago teb tsev cia puav pheej, sawv daws khoom ib los muaj 14 xyoo Iyiv tus tub hu ua Minirdis. Xim av thiab nws lug txhawb cov miv yuav ua hauj lwm rau lub mummy thiab hleb kho puas thiab tswj kom cov zaub thiab tsoo kom ib exhibition yavtom ntej.

"Nws yog tus txiav txim siab daws poob siab loj heev,"Xim av hais rau tus neeg saib xyuas cov, recalling cas nws pab neeg siv ib tug menyuam txaj hlau elaborate tsa lub hau ua ib thooj. “And it makes one more nervous when one is working with human remains,"nws hais, “and as they get younger it gets more affecting. You realize this was a person’s life that was cut short.”

egyptian mummy
JP Brown and his team photograph the backside of the mummified body of Minirdis, a 14-year-old Egyptian boy who was the son of a priest. Yees duab: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

An inscription on the coffin named Minirdis as the son of a priest of Min, a central Egyptian fertility god. Minirdis’ body was found in the late 19th century at a huge burial site along the Nile near the city of Akhmin, where many of the mummies on display in the US come from.

Had he lived, Minirdis likely would have been a priest, Brown said.

Mummification was mostly for “the 10 percenters” of ancient Egypt, Brown said, such as priests, their families, the royal family and the royals’ closest functionaries. Minirdis’ coffin arrived at the Field Museum in the 1920s.

Seeing x-rays of a small body in an oversized coffin, researchers at first thought the body belonged to a woman. Then CT scans revealed “a definite penis”, Brown said, which ended their confusion about the male name on the coffin. Although scientists don’t know how Minirdis died, it appears the coffin was made for an adult and repurposed when the boy perished.

egyptian mummy
The Egyptian Goddess Nut, which translates to sky, is painted in the bottom of the coffin of Minirdis. Yees duab: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

When removing the lid, the team feared the whole coffin would fall apart; tam sim no, Brown and his colleagues face the challenge of conserving both the body and coffin. They will search through all the debris in the coffin – some wood, some wrappings, some human – and begin the delicate work of putting it all together. “If you took a jigsaw puzzle and twisted it and tore it and then left it for 2,300 xyoo, that’s basically what we’re doing here,” Brown said.

The conservators will try to use as much of the original material as possible, and Brown said any modern material they use will be not only durable but “sympathetic” to the methods of ancient Egyptians. They will rewrap the remains in the style of ancient Egyptians and restore broken bits of the corpse.

The mummy’s shroud and gilded mask were damaged during burial and over the years, and constitute one of the biggest challenges of conservation. “Each object is effectively unique,” Brown said, with “all kinds of different traditions of craftsmanship that evolve over thousands of years”.

With so few mummies around the world, experts with experience conserving the fragile remains are even rarer and conservators’ work blends research, preservation and archaeology. The Field Museum brought Mimi Leveque from the Peabody Essex Museum to help Brown, who said this was his second coffin but his first mummy.

The exhibition, “Mummies: Images of the Afterlife”, will display more than 20 mummies and dozens of artifacts, and is expected to travel to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and Denver Museum of Nature and Science in the next few years.

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