2,500-Year-Old Mummy Gets Rare Cleaning At Boston Hospital

A 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy is getting a rare cleaning at a Boston hospital. The mummy, Padihershef, has been on display at Massachusetts General Hospital since 1823.

But on Friday Padihershef came out of his coffin, aided by a conservator trained in restoring ancient artifacts. The conservator will use cotton swabs dabbed in saliva to wipe away the salt deposits from the old mummy’s face.

The salt deposits are a result of the mummification process and seep slowly from his tissue. Mime Leveque, the conservator, will also use a tiny brush to wipe away the salt film. She has also used a small vacuum cleaner to take away the dust on the ancient mummy’s body. Leveque stated of the process:

“I guess you could say it was something very similar to a facelift, maybe more; maybe he is getting a facial in a spa, perhaps.”

But the 2,500-year-old mummy’s spa treatment is much different than ours. While Padihershef undergoes his restoration, experts will also do a minor repair and stabilization on his coffin. The whole process will take about three days.

After that, the Egyptian mummy and his coffin will be moved to a special horizontal case, where they will lie next to each other in the Ether Dome, a surgical amphitheater where William T.G. Morton demonstration the first public surgery using anesthesia in 1846.

Padihershef is one of the first complete mummies brought to the United States. He was a gift from a Dutch diplomat who was happy with Boston’s hospitality. The city donated him to the hospital as a medical oddity. No one knows exactly how the man lived or died, though experts are exploring those questions in a conservation project supported by the hospital and donors.

The ancient mummy was removed from his normal spot at the hospital in March and taken to the hospital’s imaging suites. There technicians subjected the 2,500-year-old man to full body X-rays and CT scanning. The study was intended to produce images to use as a comparison to those taken in 1931 and 1976.

Earlier tests showed that the mummy’s bones showed interrupted growth lines that indicated a severe illness he had as a child. The illness likely stunted his growth. The scans also showed that Padihershef still has his brain — a strange discovery, as the organ was typically removed to prevent decomposition.

Leveque, how specializes in Egyptian antiquities, stated of Padihershef, “He ws probably someone who was employed to open up the ground and to create the tombs for the kings in the Valley of the Kings. He was 40 when he passed away.

[Image via Daderot]