A piece of linen in which a 2,300-year-old mummy was wrapped in the Teece Museum at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand was the same age as a similar specimen from the Getty Institute in Los Angeles.
This helped to solve part of a long-standing puzzle and allowed experts in Ancient Egypt to read the spell from the Book of the Dead.
Experts suspected a link between their exhibit, stored in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, and an exhibit in Los Angeles after the Teece Museum digitized artifacts from its collection.
A small fragment, stored in New Zealand, is part of a set of bandages that were torn from the mummy of a certain Petosiris and went to travel around the world. Almost nothing is known about Petosiris except that his mother's name was Tetosiris.
Researchers report that the two parts of the canvas that came close to each other depict scenes and incantations from the Book of the Dead, including inscriptions in Egyptian hieratic script, dating back to 300 BC. Two pieces of cloth from New Zealand and the United States are missing a small piece, but when joined together, you can get images of butchers butchering an ox as an offering, as well as men carrying objects for the afterlife.
An enlarged view of a fragment of the Book of the Dead at the Getty Research Institute. Fragment in New Zealand fits in the torn edge from below
It is known that the canvas once belonged to Charles Augustus Murray, who was the British Consul General in Egypt from 1846 to 1863. It later became part of the collection of Sir Thomas Phillips (1883-1966). Then the exhibits were gradually sold at various auctions and ended up in many private and museum collections.
In earlier periods, the Egyptians left inscriptions and made images directly on the walls of the tomb, but in a later period they wrote on papyrus and cloth used to wrap bodies.
“It's hard to write on such material. It takes a steady hand and a good pen, and this man has done an amazing job.”- Alison Griffith, associate professor of classical literature at the University of Canterbury.
In addition to butchers and servants with the afterlife, the canvas depicts four standard-bearers with symbols of the nomes (administrative units of Ancient Egypt), as well as a hawk, an ibis, a jackal, a burial boat with figures of the goddesses of Isis and Neptis on the sides, as well as a man pulling a sleigh with Anubis. A similar scene occurs at the beginning of a copy of the Book of the Dead on the Turin papyrus.