Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum

Six Egyptian mummies have been unravelled in a world first exhibition at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives’ is curated by the British Museum and uses interactive elements to detail the lives and deaths of six mummies from various time periods in Egypt’s history, from 900 BC up to the Roman period in the 2nd century AD. 

To uncover the secrets in the sarcophagi, each of the mummies was put through a computer tomography (CT) scanner at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, which allowed researchers to see detailed images of their bone and muscle structures.

This method gave them an insight into the age of the mummies, their sex, their diet and even how they died – all without destroying the remains.

The exhibition also features around 200 objects relating to each of the mummies, which gives the audience a sense of who each individual was, according to Marie.

‘For example, you have the mummy of the temple singer, we know she was singing and playing musical instruments in the temple so we wanted to highlight that,’ she said.

One mummy, a two-year-old boy, is surrounded by children’s clothing.

The way in which the mummies died is also a focus of the exhibition, and allows visitors an understanding of what life was like in ancient Egypt.

Not one of the mummies made it past the age of 50 and many showed signs of disease. The scans revealed the temple singer suffered from dental problems and the mummy from the Roman period was a young, overweight man, despite his sarcophagus portrait showing a slender face.

Marie said her main concern as a curator of the exhibition was to ensure that the mummies were treated with dignity.

‘I think that’s what makes this exhibition special – we wanted to make sure the they were treated and considered with care and respect – and visitors of the exhibition would feel that as well.’

The exhibition opens on the 10th of December and will run until the 25th of April next year.