The Egyptian Mummy

Tash Pen Khonsu, the Egyptian Mummy, is one of the most loved ongoing exhibits in Canterbury Museum.

She was acquired from the English antiquarian George Hilton Price in 1887 by the Museum's first Director Sir Julius von Haast, while he was visiting London as a New Zealand Commissioner to the Colonial and Indian Exhibition. She arrived in Christchurch in 1888 and was immediately placed on display.

From the style of her coffin it could be deduced that Tash Pen Khonsu lived during the late Ptolemaic Period and it was recorded that her home was in Akhmim in Upper Egypt. New research in 1998 revealed new information about the social and medical life history of Tash Pen Khonsu.

The hieroglyphics on her coffin revealed that she was a married woman of noble birth and actively worshipped the god Amun Ra. A CT scan of her wrapped torso revealed that she was a slightly built woman standing around 147 cms tall and weighing between 50 and 56 kgs. She was only 25 years old when she died of unknown causes.

Radiocarbon dates from her shroud and from her elaborate one piece decorated wooden coffin produced a surprising result. While the linen shroud around her body showed she died about 185 BC, threads from her coffin were some 300 years older dating to about 485 BC. The logical explanation for this discrepancy is that after mummification she was placed into a recycled coffin.

Currently Tash Pen Khonsu rests in a tomb like setting surrounded by the many treasures she might have expected to accompany her in the afterlife.