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UP FOR AUCTION The case of the mummy

 
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kat
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:24 pm    Post subject: UP FOR AUCTION The case of the mummy Reply with quote

http://www.newsday.com/news/printedition/stories/ny-e4997030dec01,0,448580.story



UP FOR AUCTION





The case of the mummy



December 1, 2006

On Thursday, as part of a large auction of antiquities, Christie's in New York plans to put up for bid a mummy and its sarcophagus that date back to around 990-940 BC.

The sarcophagus, made of fig wood, comes from a period when both the insides and outsides of these burial containers were elaborately painted or sculpted. Ancient Egyptians were known for their lavish tombs, with beautiful scenes on the walls. But grave robbing was already prevalent by 1000 BC, and so the scenes moved from the wall to the sarcophagus, which was often hidden in a cache in a temple.

The auction house has made no public estimate of how much they expect it to bring, although the last time a mummy was sold at auction was in May 2003, when Christie's in England set a record of $1.4 million. Max Bernheimer, the head of the antiquities department at Christie's, said that this sarcophagus is in better shape and that the house is confident it will go for more than $1.5 million.

Why all the writing and illustration? Bern- heimer explains: "It's all about preparing the owner, in this case Neskhons, for the afterlife. A lot of it is formulas relating to things that occurred in life that would have to continue into the next life, in perpetuity."

Items from the auction can be viewed at Christie's starting tomorrow at 10 a.m. For details, visit www.christies.com.





Who was inside?

The text on the sarcophagus indicates the person inside is Neskhons, who served as a stolist - a priest or someone who performed a ritual for anointing, clothing or otherwise working with the cult-image of the god in his temple. The texts also mention three generations of priests of Amun, recognized as "king of the gods," and even though there is no mention of their relationship to Neskhons, scholars assume the three must have been in his family.



Based on the presence of arthritis in his bones, found in recent X-ray examinations, it is believed Neskhons was in his early 20s when he died. There is no obvious trauma to the body, leading to the assumption that he most probably died from an infection.

How did he get here?

In 1900, the publisher of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Liberty E. Holden, took a trip up the Nile River during a visit to Egypt. He learned that a dealer from Luxor, Sheik Mahmud Hassan, had discovered four mummies hidden in a cache. He bought this one and sent it to Cairo so that it could be cleared for export by Egyptian Museum officials. When he returned to Cleveland, he donated it to the Western Reserve Historical Society. The sarcophagus was opened during a ceremony in the society's auditorium, and the mummy was partially unwrapped. The sarcophagus remained on exhibit from 1901 to about 1991, when it moved to the Frank H. McClung Museum in Knoxville, Tenn.

KNEELING, PRAYING FIGURE

labeled "Lord of the House of the Ruler, in order to praise"

FRAMED SYMBOL

reads "Osiris, Lord of Eternity" between two seated gods each holding an ankh, an ancient symbol of life.

SCROLL

reads "Protection, Life and Dominion"

FALCON

with outstretched wings, labeled iAt or "sacred mound"

MALE DEITY

with the "West'' sign on his head, labeled "Ba.'' West was the direction of the burial area in ancient Egyptian religion, and "Ba'' translates roughly to "soul.''

AMENHOTEP I

the second king of Egypt's 18th Dynasty, whose rule began between 1526 and 1546 BC. The former pharaoh, considered a god, is wearing a crown.

SMALL SPHINX

TEXT

"Anubis, Lord of the Cemetery, Foremost in the God's Booth, First Lector Priest in the Place of Truth, Great God, Lord of Heaven, the Skilled One''

ANUBIS

the Egyptian god of the dead, usually represented as a dog-headed or jackal-headed man, is show seated on a shrine labeled "Excellent Bas.''

STANDING FIGURE OF ANUBIS

TABLE OF OFFERINGS

THE COVER

An early sarcophagus, especially for royalty, would be inlaid with precious stones and glass.

This cover features raised areas, sculpted from the wood and painted to resemble the more expensive ornamentation from past eras.



SOURCE: IMAGES AND INFORMATION COURTESY OF CHRISTIE'S Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.
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kat
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again I must protest- WRHS has a sordid history of mismanagement and selling off objects. Lending NesKhons as a 'permanent loan' was merely a ploy on the old theme of out od sight, out of mind.

However, a detail of this story gives me yet another pause- the X-Rays that were always exhibited above NesKhons at WRHS showed a very bad break of the femur. At the time those X-Rays were taken, it was thought that this break was his COD. If this mummy doen't show this break, then they've put the wrong mummy with the wrong coffin.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why do you suppose this is being sold, kat? It boggles the mind. Is it possible the WRHS is seriously hard up for funds? I know that if we had this one at the Field, it would be proudly displayed. I just hate to read about this sort of thing. There's every chance it might go to a private collector, which means it might never be seen by the public again. I must confess that I don't understand the laws that govern these things, so maybe that would be illegal. At the very least it would be nice to think that another museum or institution will purchase it for their collection. Confused
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kmt-Sesh wrote:

Quote:
Why do you suppose this is being sold, kat? It boggles the mind. Is it possible the WRHS is seriously hard up for funds?


WRHS is actually two museums- the Historical Society proper and the Crawford ***Aviation Museum. Currently they are located in University Circle. The Circle has the highest concentration of museums, parks, colleges and universities, the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra in a few square miles than you'll find anywhere else in the world.

Some of these, esp WRHS, are housed in Victorian Gilded-era mansions. For reasons of space, they wanted to move the Crawford to Cleveland's lakefront near the new Science Center, Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, etc. They commisioned architects to design a new facility, looked at a land purchase, various studies,etc. When fund-raising fell short (mostly because the museum didn't involve new sports stadiums- oh my city! Sad ) the bills still had to be paid.

WRHS started selling off artifacts long before this, however. A few years ago they sold the entire Napolean Room, one of the finest collections of artifacts relating to him in North America, because it 'didn't fit the mission' of WRHS. But the money came in handy for shortfalls.

The sad fact is, this museum was founded by a few Victorian robber barons who didn't want to pay workers decent wages, but decided to provide extra-scholastic educational opportunities instead. So all sorts of things were donated or willed to WRHS to help educate the public, including NesKhons.

If you have access to the Nexus database, you might search for articles about this institution's problems and mismanagement, starting with front-page articles fron the now-defunct Cleveland Press in the late 60's and 70's.

NesKhons was one of the more popular exhibits, so they had to use an out-of-sight, out-of-mind ploy by putting him on 'permanent loan' to the Wm. Carlos Emory museum. This way ppl wouldn't fuss too much when he was sold off. I note that none of the Cleveland media has breathed a word of this sale either.

I'm basically a housewife, and I know this stuff- so it shouldn't have been too hard for the local media to pick up on this. Sad
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kat
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

P.S.- This isn't the first time Cleveland has been short sighted. If the city fathers hadn't feuded with Rockefeller, the OI and Field museum would be here, attached to the Case Western Reserve University! Our loss is your gain. Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the Christie's website this morning, NesKhons, listed merely as 'lot 26' sold for $1,136,000. Short of the pre-sale estimates of one and a half million dollars.

http://www.christies.com./auction/results/results_lotlist.asp?saleno=NYC1734
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, someone certainly got a "deal." Gees. Rolling Eyes
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