Volume 5 (2022)

First page of the paper.

Papers presented at the third international conference of the Hellenic Institute of Egyptology

Why an Egyptian Priestess of the Higher Panopolitan Class deserved such Poor a Mummification?

Maravelia, Alicia; Bontozoglou, Nikolaos; Grigoraki, Argyro; Lazaris, Panagiotis; Pantazis, Ioannis; Kyriazi, Stavroula; Couvaris, Constantinos


In the context of the Athens Mummy Project, jointly performed by the Hellenic Institute of Egyptology, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens and the Athens Medical Centre, we re-examine the intriguing mummy of Ta-kherd-Min (NAM AIG 3348), a dancing priestess of Min, as well as the inscriptions on her coffin. The fact that she was the daughter of a father belonging to the higher clergy of Min, offspring of a noble family of high stratus in the Panopolitan society of the Ptolemaic Period, and that she herself was a ritual dancer of the city-god, would be per se implying an excellent embalming result for her mummy. However, CT-scanning has uncovered several unexpected and intriguing facts: putrefaction of her body had started long time before mummification begun; her bones were disordered; her cranium was held in place with a palm stick through the foramen magnum; there was a failed excerebration attempt; there were prosthetic additions for the nose and her eyes; &c. We explained these finds, assuming that —following Herodotos [II, 89: 1-2]— her body was given to the embalmers several days after her death, in order to avoid a possible necrophilia mistreatment, as well as by the fact that such post mortem confection and support of the mummified body was common during both the Ptolemaic and the Roman Period. In this paper, we re-discuss the whole matter, re-examining the hieroglyphic inscriptions on her coffin and proposing some new research methods, as well as her face reconstruction that will be performed in the immediate future.


Maravelia, A., Bontozoglou, N., Grigoraki, A., Lazaris, P., Pantazis, I., Kyriazi, S., Couvaris, C. 2022. «Why an Egyptian Priestess of the Higher Panopolitan Class deserved such Poor a Mummification?», JHIE 5: 3–14



Language: en

Submitted on 2022-08-21; accepted on 2022-12-23


  • Arsenault, A.: Social Stratification and Mummification in Ancient Egypt: The Inevitability of Variability in the Post–New Kingdom Mummification Program, Ontario (University of Western Ontario/Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository 7637) 2021 [URL: https: //ir.lib.uwo.ca/etd/7637].
  • Bardinet, T.: «Hérodote et le secret de l’embaumeur», Parcourir l’éternité: Hommages à Jean Yoyotte (Zivie–Coche, C. & Guermeur, I., eds), Turnhout (Brepols /BÉHÉ – Sciences Religieuses 156) 2012, 59-82.
  • BMD = Shaw, I. & Nicholson, P. (eds): British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, London (AUCPress) 1996.
  • Bontozoglou, N., Maravelia, A., Pantazis, I., Kalogerakou, K., Michailidis, G., Kalampoukas, K., Couvaris, C. & Kyriazi, S.: «The Athens Mummy Project in Context: Exciting and Unexpected Results from the CT–Scanning of Five Mummies of the National Archaeological Museum», JHIE 4, 2021, 41-74 [DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.5775653].
  • Browarski, E.J.: «Akhmīm in the Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period», Mélanges Gamal Mokhtar, Cairo (IFAO/ BiÉtud 97) 1985, 117-153.
  • Bučil, J., Oktábkova, L., Onderka, P., Pečený, J. & Strouhal, E.: Egyptské Mumie – Egyptian Mummies, Prague (Národní Muzeum – National Museum) 2011.
  • Cockburn, A., Cockburn, E. & Reyman, T.A.: Mummies, Disease and Ancient Cultures, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press) 22006.
  • D’Auria, S.: «Mummification in Ancient Egypt», Mummies and Magic: The Funerary Arts of Ancient Egypt (d’Auriaet al., eds), Boston (Museum of Fine Arts) 1988, 14-19.
  • DeMeulenaere, H.: «Prophètes et danseurs Panopolitains à la Basse Époque», BIFAO 88, 1988, 41-49 & Pl. VI.
  • Dunand, F. & Lichtenberg, R.: Mummies and Death in Egypt, Ithaca–London (Cornell University Press) 2006.
  • EG = Gardiner, A.H.: Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs, Oxford (Griffith Institute/Ashmolean Museum)31988.
  • Fleming, S.J., Fishman, B., O’Connor, D. & Silverman, D.: The Egyptian Mummy: Secrets and Science, Philadelphia (TheUniversity Museum / University of Philadelphia) 1980.
  • Gauthier, H.: Le personnel du dieu Min, Le Caire 1931.
  • Germer, R.: Mumien: Zeugen des Pharaonenreiches, Zürich–München (Artemis und Winkler) 1991.
  • Germer, R.: «La momification», L’Égypte: Sur les traces de la civilisation pharaonique (Schulz, R. & Seidel, M., eds), Cologne (Könemann) 2000, 458-469.
  • Grajetzki, W.: Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt: Life and Death for Rich and Poor, London (Duckworth Egyptology) 2003.
  • Gray, P.H.K.: «Embalmers’ Restorations», JEA 52, 1966, 138-140.
  • Harris, J.R. & Wente, E.F.: An X –Ray Atlas of the Royal Mummies, Chicago (University of Chicago Press) 1980.
  • Hawass, Z. & Saleem, S.N.: Scanning the Pharaohs: CT Imaging of the New Kingdom Royal Mummies, Cairo (The American University in Cairo Press) 2016.
  • Hölbl, G.: A History of the Ptolemaic Empire, London (Routledge) 2001.
  • Jørgensen, M.: Catalogue EGYPT III : Coffins, Mummy Adornments and Mummies from the TIP , LP , Ptolemaic and Roman Periods (1080 BC – AD 400), Copenhagen (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek) 2001.
  • Kanawāti, N.: The Rock Tombs of ᾿ El-Hawawīsh: The Cemetery of Akhmīm I-X, North Ryde, NSW (MAHA) 1980-1992.
  • Karapanagiotou, A–V., Lazaris, P., Grigoraki, A. & Nikolentzos, K.: «The Collection of Egyptian Antiquities in the National Archaeological Museum and the Athens Mummy Project: A Preliminary Report», JHIE 4, 2021, 29-40.
  • Klales, A.R.: Computed Tomography Analysis and Reconstruction of Ancient Egyptians originating from the Akhmim Region of Egypt: A Biocultural Perspective (PhD Thesis), Winnipeg MB, Canada (University of Manitoba) 2014.
  • Kuhlmann, K.P.: Materialen zur Archäologie und Geschichte des Raumes von Achmim, Mainz (P. von Zabern) 1983.
  • = Helck, W. & Otto, E. (Hrsg.): Lexikon der Ägyptologie I-VII, Wiesbaden (O. Harrassowitz) 1975-1989.
  • Lang, P.: Medicine and Society in Ptolemaic Egypt (Scarborough, J., ed.), Leiden (Brill / Studies in Ancient Medicine 41) 2012.
  • Lloyd, A.B.: «The Ptolemaic Period (332-30 BC)», The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (Shaw, I., ed.), Oxford (Oxford University Press) 22002.
  • Loynes, R.: Prepared for Eternity: A Study of Human Embalming Techniques in Ancient Egypt using Computerised Tomography Scans on Mummies, Oxford (Archaeopress / Archaeopress Egyptology 9) 2015.
  • Maravelia, A.–A.: «Ὅτι πλεῖστα θω­μά­σια <Αἴγυπτος> ἔχει καὶ ἔργα λόγου μέζω παρέχεται πρὸς πᾶσαν χώρην... Egyptian Collections in Hellenic Museums: A Brief History and Some Pieces», Ancient Egypt and Antique Europe: Two Parts of the Mediterranean World. Papers from a Session held at the 7thAnnual Meeting of the EAA in Esslingen 2001 (Maravelia, A.–A., ed.), Oxford (Archaeopress / BAR International Series 1052) 2002, 15-29.
  • Maravelia, A.–A.: «Among the Hidden Treasures of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens: Searching for Forgotten Mummies, 2», Modern Trends in European Egyptology: Papers from a Session, held at the European Association of Archaeologists 9thAnnual Meeting in S T Petersburg 2003 (Maravelia, A.–A., ed.), Oxford (Archaeopress / BAR International Series 1448) 2005, 7-21.
  • Maravelia, A.: «Death and Mummification in Ancient Egypt: An Overview (Review Article)», JHIE 4, 2021, 3-20 [DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.5775683].
  • Maravelia, A., Bontozoglou, N., Kalogerakou, K., Couvaris, C.M. & Geroulanos, S.: «Application of Smart InformaticsinEgyptology: The Athens Mummy Project as anExampleof Effective Interdisciplinarity», Shodoznavstvo / Сходозна вство 84, Kiev (NASU) 2019, 127-162 [DOI: 10.15407/skhodoznavstvo2019.84.127].
  • Maravelia, A.–A. & Cladaki–Manoli, E.: «Among the Hidden Treasures of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens: Searching for Forgotten Mummies, 1», Europe, Hellas and Egypt: Complementary Antipodes during the Late Antiquity: Papers from a Session, held at the European Association of Archaeologists 8thAnnual Meeeting in Thessaloniki 2002 (Maravelia, A.–A., ed.), Oxford (Archaeopress / BAR International Series 1218) 2004, 5-20.
  • McNally, S.: «Survival of a City: Excavations at Akhmīm», NARCE 116, 1981-1982, 26-30.
  • Nερούτσος, Τ.Δ.: «Σημειώσεις ἐπὶ Δέκα Μομίαις Ἑλληνο–Ῥωμαϊκῆς καὶ Βυζαντινῆς Ἐποχῆς», Ἀρχαιολογικὴ Ἐφημερίς, Ἀθῆναι 1884, col. 171-180 & Tab. 12.
  • Newberry, P.E.: «The Inscribed Tombs of Ekhmīm», LAAA 4, 1912, 101-120.
  • Nūr ᾿el-dīn, cA. ᾿el-H.: The Royal Mummies: The Egyptian Museum, Cairo (SCAPress) 1994.
  • Ogdon, J.R.: «Some Notes on the Iconography of Min», BES 7, 1985-1986, 29-41.
  • ΠΑΕ = Πρακτικὰ Ἀρχαιολογικῆς Ἑταιρείας, Ἀθῆναι 1884.
  • Partridge, R.: Faces of Pharaohs: Royal Mummies and Coffins from Ancient Thebes, London (BMP) 1994.
  • Piombino–Mascali, D., Jankauskas, R., Snitkuvienė, A.et al. : «On the Remains contained in Count Aleksander Branicki’s Egyptian Coffin», JAEI 15, 2017a, 11-17.
  • Piombino–Mascali, D., Gill–Frerking, H. &Beckett, R.G.: «The Taphonomy of Natural Mummies», Taphonomy of Human Remains (Schotsmans, E.M.J. et al., eds), Hoboken NJ (J. Wiley & Sons) 2017b, 101-119.
  • PM = Porter, B. & Moss, R.L.B. (withBurney, E.W.): Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Paintings I-VIII, Oxford 1939-1988.
  • PN = Ranke, H.: Die ägyptische Personennamen I-III, Glückstadt (J.J. Augustin) 1935-1952-1977.
  • Raxter, M.H., Ruff, C.B., Azab, A., Erfan, M. et al. : «Stature Estimation in Ancient Egyptians: A New Technique based on Anatomical Reconstruction of Stature», American Journal of Physical Anthropology 136, 2008, 147-155.
  • Sadek, A.I.: «La Collection Égyptienne du Musée de l’Évêché de Limoges: le Sarcophage de Iret–Hor–erou», GM 115, 1990, 85-98.
  • Salter–Pedersen, E.: The Myth of Eternal Preservation: Patterns of Damage in Egyptian Mummies (MAThesis), Baton Rouge LA (Louisiana State University / LSUDigital Commons / LSU Master's Theses 967)2004.
  • Spencer, A.J.: Death in Ancient Egypt, UK (Penguin Books) 31986.
  • Taylor, J.H.: Unwrapping a Mummy, Austin TX (University of Texas Press) 1996.
  • Taylor, J.H.: «Magic and Ritual for the Dead», Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt, London (BMP) 2001, 186-213.
  • Taylor, J.H. & Antoine, D.: Ancient Lives New Discoveries: Eight Mummies, Eight Stories, London (BMP) 2014.
  • Tzachou–Alexandri, O. (ed., et al. ): The World of Egypt in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens (Kapon Editions / Ministry of Culture and Hellenic ICOM) 1995.
  • Uranić, I.: Mumije: Znanost i Mit / Mummies: Science and Myth, Zagreb (Arheološki Muzej u Zagrebu/Archaeological Museum of Zagreb) 2012.
  • Veïsse, A.–E.: Les «révoltes égyptiennes». Recherches sur les troubles intérieurs en Egypte du règne de Ptolémée III à la conquête romaine, Louvain (Peeters / Studia Hellenistica 41) 2004.
  • Visages = Notin, V.et al. : Visages d’Égypte, Limoges (Musée Municipal de l’Évêché/Musée de l’Émail) 1998.
  • Wade, A.D. & Nelson, A.J.: «Evisceration andExcerebration in theEgyptianMummification Tradition», Journal of Archaeological Science 40, 2013, 4198-4206 [DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.06.017].
  • Walker, S. & Bierbrier, M.: Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt, London (BMP) 1997.
  • Wilkinson, C.: Forensic Facial Reconstruction, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press) 2004.
  • Wilkinson, R.H.: Symbol and Magic in Ancient Egyptian Art, London (Thames & Hudson) 1994.
More papers from this issue