- Overall view of the cartonnage of Hor before treatment
- David Knowles, Sophie Rowe and Andor Vince positioning the cartonnage in the purpose-built frame
- The distorted head and chest of the cartonnage before treatment
- The cartonnage of Hor suspended upside-down in the frame
- The cartonnage of Hor after reshaping and stabilisation
- The cartonnage of Hor on the new display mount
Ancient Egyptian mummy case saved by engineering and LEGO®
The conservation of the mummy case was undertaken with the assistance of the University’s Department of Engineering, who helped construct clever frames to support the delicate case during conservation and a new display mount with internal supports using LEGO®.
The mummy case was found in the Ramesseum at Thebes in 1896. The gilded wooden face had been torn out by robbers and the mummy removed. Cartonnage is a uniquely Egyptian material, often only a few millimetres thick, consisting of layers of plaster, linen and glue. It is remarkably rigid but also very sensitive to humidity. At some point Hor had been exposed to damp conditions and had sagged dramatically around the chest and face. This caused structural problems and also serious cracking and instability in the painted decoration. There had been some attempts at repair and restoration, most probably in the cartonnage's early years in the Museum.
Once Sophie (a restorer at the museum) had successfully re-shaped the chest and face and stabilised the surface, David designed and built a display mount for the mummy case. An essential part of this is the internal support which ensures that the structure cannot collapse again in the future. Six light, ingenious little structures made from LEGO® have been placed inside the chest cavity. They are adjustable using screw threads, and are padded with archival foam where they are in contact with the ancient surface.
Lego, found in space, in museums, ..& all over your bedroom floor (probably)!