Dr Robert Connolly is an anatomist at the University of Liverpool who assisted with the anatomical work done on the mummy of Tutankhamun back in the 1960s as a grad student, and has carried out a significant amount of research on Egyptian mummies since then.
Back in May 2015, I went to listen to him speak about his research on mummies over the years, as part of the Liverpool Egyptology Seminars at the University of Liverpool. It was a fascinating talk, and he’s a wonderfully witty speaker to boot. He talked about Tutankhamun, in particular the conclusions he drew on the circumstances of his death, from an anatomical point-of-view (he concurs with the theory that Tutankhamun fell out of a chariot and was hit front-on in the chest by the following chariot).
He told us that the famous bone fragment in the back of Tutankhamun’s skull that was the cause of accusations of death by blunt trauma was dislodged post mortem. He also said he had a hard time verifying the club-foot theory, as the foot in question had been jammed against the bottom end of the coffin, pushing it out of shape.
Dr Connolly spoke about the differences in mummification methods of several mummies from around the same period that he’d studied over the years. It was interesting to find out that not all mummies had their brain removed through the nose (some were through the base of the skull) and that there seemed to be no rhyme nor reason as to which method was chosen.
We also heard about the moving topic of the two foetuses found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. Dr Connolly speculated that they may have, in fact, been twins, their disparate sizes caused by ‘twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome‘. This syndrome causes one twin to receive much more blood through the placenta than the other, therefore growing much faster than the ‘donor’ twin. Although milder cases have a good prognosis these days with medical intervention, back in Tutankhamun’s day, neither twin would have been likely to survive. This explanation would also allow for both babies to have been the children of Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun, despite the young age of the parents themselves.
The Garstang Mummy
The talk coincided with the ‘repatriation’ of the Garstang Mummy to the Garstang Museum. The mummy had been put into safe storage at the university’s anatomy department during the bombing of Liverpool in the Second World War, and remained in the department for over sixty years.
Following on from the massive refurbishment of the Garstang Museum in 2014 and the subsequent securing of funding for a climate-controlled case, the Garstang Mummy came ‘home’. You can read more about the move from the anatomy department back to the museum on the Garstang Museum’s blog here.
After Dr Connolly’s talk (and a couple of drinks), the group moved on down to the museum for a tour and an introduction to the Garstang Mummy himself. Dan Potter told us about the more modern history of the mummy, and it was during this tour that I got my favourite picture of the night – the one of Dr Connolly with the mummy – featured at the top of this post.
It was a truly splendid and fascinating evening!
The Garstang Mummy now takes pride of place in the Death and the Afterlife gallery in the Garstang Museum
Dr Connolly was pleased to see the mummy back in the museum
The Garstang Mummy
The group listens to Dan Potter speak about the mummy's more modern history
Dr Roland Enmarch
Having fun in that special Egyptologist way ...
Liverpool Light Night
The following day I was back at the Garstang again, this time accompanied by my little people.
The museum opened in the evening as part of the annual Liverpool Light Night festival, and the place was buzzing. Lots of people came in to see the Garstang Mummy in his new pride-of-place and to soak up the atmosphere of an evening museum visit.
My girls had a great time. They love coming to see things from ‘Mummy’s Egypt’, and the staff at the museum had put together a treasure-hunt quiz for visiting children. They’d put it together very well; it was easy enough for the children to complete, but not so easy that they couldn’t finish without having to do a bit of careful hunting.
A good time was definitely had by all.
If you think I gush a lot about the Garstang, I’m not the only one. Jo from HieroEducation visited recently and is as enthusiastic about the place as I am. And for good reason. It’s a great place! If you live in/near Liverpool, take a day off work and go visit. If you’re visiting the city, make sure you’re here on a Wednesday, when the museum is open, and get yourself along. You won’t regret it.
Have you been to the Garstang Museum? Did you enjoy it? Please do share your experience in the comments.