Egypt’s Mummies Safe and Sound, Despite Cairo Museum Unrest

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The gold mask of ancient pharaoh king Tutankhamen

Amid the chaos in Cairo last week, reports emerged that looters had beheaded two mummies in Egypt’s National Museum. As it turns out, the long-deceased pharaohs remain under wraps with their heads firmly attached.

The misinformation began to spread on January 28 when nine looters broke into Egypt’s famed museum in search of gold. They damaged 70 objects, including two skulls, a 3,000-year old wooden sarcophagus and a statue of King Tutankhamun standing on a panther. Zahi Hawass, the country’s Minister of Antiquities, initially suggested those unidentified skulls belonged to two mummies.

(More on The Break-In at Cairo’s Prized Museum.)

That sent Egyptologists and a host of other mummy sleuths on a mission to figure out who the heads belonged to. As Discovery reported, Chilean journal Conozca Más believed the shape of the forehead and jaw of one skull indicated a teenage woman. And Mercedes González, director of the Instituto de Estudios Científicos en Momias in Madrid, found a picture online which she thought matched an image of a damaged mummy photographed on the museum floor. “It’s starting to take on the hallmarks of a TV drama like Bones or CSI. Just who were the two mummies?” one blogger asked.

But according to Reuters, none of the mummies were damaged after all. In the aftermath of the break-in, museum officials apparently mistook the two skulls, which had previously been separated from their skeletons for testing in a research lab, for mummy heads.

“I had tears because I thought that what I did for the last nine years protecting the Egyptian monuments, was gone,” Hawass told the Associated Press. “I am so happy to announce that today everything is safe.” (via Reuters)

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