Egyptian mummy The mummy undergoes a CT scan at Mercy Radiology in Epsom [575 - 850BC] The conservation process In 1998, the Museum's only adult Egyptian mummy was removed from display during gallery refurbishment. Conservation staff had the opportunity to carry out a thorough examination of the mummy and coffin. Investigation identified two major deterioration problems - the presence of salts on the surface of the linen wrapping and flaking paint on the wooden sarcophagus. Identification of materials was undertaken and treatment begun to stabilise problem components. Thorough testing of adhesives and application methods was undertaken before securing the flaking paint to the wooden substrate using a cellulose ether dissolved in a slow-evaporating solvent. Areas of fragile wood on the coffin were consolidated with an acrylic resin and fills made where necessary using a combination of paper pulp and a cellulose ether. Egyptian mummy GALLERY Face of the sarcophagus with features modelled from mud and plaster. The sarcophagus and mummy, and detail of Anubis the Jackal painted in orpiment pigment on the base of the sarcophagus. Museum staff carefully pack the sarcophagus for transport to hospital. CT scan at Mercy Radiology, Epsom, Auckland A variety of poultices were tested with the aim of solubilising and removing salts from the bandages using a minimum of water. A cellulose pulp proved most effective and was applied successively to small areas, gently removing the surface deposits. Deciphering the past As conservation treatment proceeded, a volunteer Egyptologist worked to decipher the hieroglyphs which decorate the coffin. Her task was made even more difficult by severe fading of the inscriptions but she was able to detect the name "Ta-Sedgement" on the coffin base. CT-scan and carbon-dating Further information was gleaned when the mummy had a CT-scan and the mummy was found to be female and approximately 32 years old at the time of death. The period in which the mummy was prepared remains uncertain. Samples of linen and wood from the bandages and coffin have been radiocarbon dated at the University of Waikato. Results ranged from 575-850BC, but these figures relate to the plant from which the linen came and the wood from which the coffin was made. Since both wood and linen were recycled in ancient Egypt, the dates give us only a rough guide to the mummy's age. These estimates now need to be balanced against the stylistic and inscription evidence of the mummy and coffin. Back on display Now that the conservation treatment completed the mummy on permanent display in the Ancient Worlds Gallery. She is displayed in a nitrogen-filled display case originally designed by Shin Maekawa of the Getty Conservation Institute. This low-oxygen atmosphere helps to retard further deterioration of the mummy and coffin and ensure the lengthy conservation treatment does not need to be repeated.