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Ta-Kush, Maidstone Museum's mummy, aged by CT scan

By Ed McConnell

A CT scan of a 2,700-year-old Egyptian mummy has revealed she is not 14 as initially thought but at least in her mid 20s.

Ta-Kush, who is a visitor favourite at Maidstone Museum, is being analysed by medical experts as part of a project backed £78,700 of Heritage Lottery funding.

It is part of the redevelopment of the St Faith's Street collection's Ancient Civilizations gallery.

Ta-Kush goes in to the scanner. Picture: Paul Dixon
Ta-Kush goes in to the scanner. Picture: Paul Dixon

Known by a number of names, including The Lady of the House and daughter of god of the afterlife Osiris, Ta-Kush made her way to England in the 1820s.

VIDEO: The mummy was at least in her mid 20s. Credit: Paul Dixon.

It was always thought she was a teenage girl but the scan conducted at Bearsted Road's Kent Institute of Medicine and Science revealed features that suggest she is much older.

Mark Garrad, CT lead radiographer at KIMS Hospital, said: “The scans conducted indicate evidence of well-worn teeth, loss of enamel, cavities, abscesses in the jaw and fully erupted wisdom teeth.

Ta-Kush was initially thought to have died aged 14. Picture: Paul Dixon
Ta-Kush was initially thought to have died aged 14. Picture: Paul Dixon

"Although we cannot place her age exactly, the evidence we have managed to glean from the initial scans would suggest a person who is at least mid-twenties, possibly much older. It has been fascinating to be part of the early stages of discovery and we are looking forward to what other insights the experts can gather about Ta-Kush.”

The scans also show evidence of a wedge fracture in one of her vertebrae, which is seen in patients suffering a downward impact, such as a fall or landing upright, but also shows signs of healing, indicating Ta-Kush could well have been living with this injury.

An image of Ta-Kush's face. Picture: Paul Dixon
An image of Ta-Kush's face. Picture: Paul Dixon

Samantha Harris, collections manager at the museum, said: "We weren’t expecting too much to be derived from the initial scans of Ta-Kush and the other items, but the results seen have been remarkable.

“It was such a pleasure to work alongside the Imaging Team at KIMS Hospital in being able to analyse these items and, for the initial results to reveal so much means, the remainder of the Ancient Civilisations gallery project has been injected with a whole new level of excitement.”

The Maidstone Mummy
The Maidstone Mummy

Facial reconstruction of Ta-Kush will now be carried out with the help of Liverpool John Moores University, while additionally research will be carried out to uncover more about her life and the history of mummified animal remains in the museum's collection ready for the redisplay of the wider Ancient Egyptian and Greek World collections, to be unveiled in summer 2017.

In addition to the university, KIMS and the Heritage Lottery Fund, Maidstone Museums’ Foundation, the Egyptology Department at the British Museum, the Petrie Museum at University College London, Western Ontario University and the Egypt Exploration Society have worked together on the project.

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