Scientist opens mummy coffin, finds more than dust
Scientist opens mummy coffin, finds more than dust The mummified body of Minirdis, a 14-year-old Egyptian boy and his burial mask lie in his opened coffin at the Field Museum. His exposed toes appear at left (AP photos)
Scientist opens mummy coffin, finds more than dust
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Once the lid was off the wood coffin holding the 2,500-year-old mummified remains of a 14-year-old Egyptian boy, scientist J.P. Brown could relax.

Brown is the conservator at Chicago's Field Museum. He and three other scientists had just used clamps and pieces of metal to create a cradle to lift the lid. They wore blue surgical gloves. Slowly they lifted the contraption containing the coffin lid. Then they carefully walked it to a table in a lab at the museum.

"Sweet!" Brown said, after helping set the lid down. He later added, "Oh yeah, I was nervous."

It was a well-planned routine. It came as scientists started conservation work on the mummy of Minirdis. He was the son of a priest. The mummy needs to be stabilized so it can travel. It will appear in the exhibit, "Mummies: Images of the Afterlife." It's expected to premier next September at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

The Field Museum has had the mummy since the 1920s. That's when the institution received it from the Chicago Historical Society. It's part of the museum's collection of 30 complete human mummies from Egypt.

"There's always a risk of damage," said Brown. "We like to handle these things as little as possible."

He did the work in a lab filled with plastic-covered examination tables. They were set behind a large window to let schoolchildren watch his daily work.

Inside the coffin, there was expected damage. The mummy's feet were detached. They were partially unwrapped with his toes were sticking out. His shroud and mask were torn and twisted sideways. Those will be repaired.

Brown didn't worry that the mummy would scatter to dust when the coffin was opened. That's something common in the movies.

"The last bit of 'Indiana Jones' and all that," Brown explained before opening the coffin. "That's not going to happen."

And it didn't.

Brown walked around the opened coffin. He explained the significance of a certain marking. If Minirdis had lived, he would have been a priest like his father, Brown said. Scientists don't know why he died so young.

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Assigned 78 times

  • emilyt-Nim
    2/25/2015 - 03:02 p.m.

    I could not believe this i think i saw him before!I don't live in Chicago I live in Bourbanais!I went to the Field Museum.

    • santij-Nim
      3/05/2015 - 03:09 p.m.

      the story was instrasting and this museum has more stuff not like ours in chicogo

  • mccraa-Nim
    3/05/2015 - 03:19 p.m.

    I do not like mummy's because they are scary and look scary.

  • fettep-Nim
    3/05/2015 - 03:22 p.m.

    i didn't really like this story i thought it was gross.

  • willek-Nim
    3/05/2015 - 03:23 p.m.

    This story really catches my eye probaly because I love everything about Acient Egypt. I belive that they found more than dust is because of corse there in Acient Egypt and I know that they made mummys when people die and I know that they must have had many of them because it was a really cruel place.

  • aaronm-Nim
    3/05/2015 - 03:28 p.m.

    that was ward but mummys are scary but 14 years old is really young and that mummy died at that

  • huddls-Nim
    3/05/2015 - 03:31 p.m.

    I didn't know mummies were real now I know that mummies you can not believe my face after I read this article.

  • Brayden-Hor
    5/21/2015 - 10:04 a.m.

    Well of my hole life I have never heard someone say that mummies are not real!!!!!!I thot that I was the only one who believed all of the weird stuff I guess not.

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