The Mummy of the Boy Horus

Object: The Mummy of the Boy Horus

Place: Egypt

Date of Creation: 1st or 2nd Century AD

Sydney University Museums, Sydney, Australia

EMu user since 2005

november_small.jpgThe mummy is that of a five or six year old boy most probably from Thebes (modern Luxor), dating to either the 1st or 2nd Century AD. It was acquired in the 1850s in Egypt by Sir Charles Nicholson and presented to the University in 1860.

For over 140 years it was thought that the mummy was that of a little girl. The mistake was made in the 1850s on the basis of a misreading by a leading Egyptologist of a small papyrus tucked into the mummy’s bandages. The translation suggested that the body was that of Haranth, the daughter of a lady of the house of Ta-ur.

In 2006 Dr Marc Coenen of the University of Leuven in Belgium confirmed that the name of the owner of the papyrus was in fact that of the boy Hr (in Egyptian), Horos (in Greek), or Horus (in Latin), and that his mother was Ta-?-wer(et). The papyrus is in the form of an abbreviated Document of Breathing, a text intended to ensure the blessed afterlife of the deceased individual.

november2_small.jpgOn 17 June 2009 a team of scientific experts, led by Forensic Egyptologist Janet Davey, used the latest Toshiba 64 slice scanner to investigate the mummy. This revealed the existence of a penis and therefore physical confirmation of the accompanying literary evidence.

The extraordinary images obtained show that the body was mummified using the most elaborate method as described by Herodotus.

Acknowledgements: Image (top): NMR.26.1 Sydney University Museums, Nicholson Museum collection. From the original collection of Sir Charles

Image (bottom): Central Sydney Imaging with the help of Janet Davey from the Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, Lauren Fogarty and Toshiba Australia, as well as Dr Margaret Stewart, Lyn Theodorides and the staff at Central Sydney Imaging.