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‘Ancient Lives, New Discoveries’ at the British Museum

The British Museum has extended their amazing exhibition, ‘Ancient Lives, New Discoveries’ until 19th April 2015, following successful visitor numbers. Centred on eight individual mummies, the exhibition aims to shed light on ancient cultures by showcasing recent research on mummified remains. Using state of the art technology, which allows guests to virtually explore the inside of mummy cases and the bodies themselves, the object of the show is to bring visitors face to face to eight ancient people who lived thousands of years ago.

The British Museum has a long-standing love affair with mummies; its first mummy entered the museum’s collection almost 260 years ago, in 1756. It was only during the 1960’s though, that museum staff first peered beneath the bandages by way of x-ray, and in more depth in the 1990s through hospital CT scanners.

Now, using more up-to-date medical scanners and computer software, the museum has been able to produce unprecedented 3D visualisations, allowing guests to explore, learn and understand more about the daily lives and rituals that bound our ancient ancestors.

The eight mummies, on which the show is structured around, have been selected purposefully to span 4,000 of human history, from the Predynastic period to the Christian era, from sites in both Egypt and the Sudan. By combining individuals from different eras and areas, different ways of life can be discovered and interpreted, shedding light on each individual and giving them a story.

There is a mummy of an adult male villager from Gebelein, who was naturally preserved by the hot sand long before the time of the pharaohs. Conversely, guests can discover the life of an adult female temple singer from Thebes, whose body represents the highest level of mummification available at the time. This woman, named Tamut, is incredibly well preserved and scans have revealed in great detail both her hair and face. She is buried with amulets and magic trappings on her body.

One scan even revealed a rather sorry excuse for embalming, where the embalmers tool had broken during use and thus became lodged within the mummy’s skull!

Advanced booking is advised, however, there are a small number of tickets available on a day to day basis from the ticket office inside the museum. Adults pay £10, with children under 16 going free with an accompanied adult. There will be a curator’s introduction to the exhibition on Friday 20th February at 13.30, which is free, but booking is essential.

Schools can also book in alongside the general public for teacher-led visits throughout the run of the exhibition.

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