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New life for the ROM's Book of the Dead.

The Friends of Ancient Egypt (FAE) have raised funds for conservation of a rare and important papyrus that has been in the ROM's collection since the early 20th century. The process has been long, but we will soon be finished. Part of this document, called the Book of the Dead, is on display in the Egyptian gallery, but the remainder had lain in a tin biscuit box, probably since C. T. Currelly purchased it in Luxor a century ago. My guess is that he had only part of it mounted for display and stashed the rest. I have found a 1978 memo about re-mounting the piece that's in the gallery but that's all the information I was able to find on the papyrus, which was once owned by a man named Amen-em-hat.

Then, some three years ago, I received a request from The University of Bonn Book of the Dead Project, which has become a central registry for all known Book of the Dead papyri throughout the world. The project coordinators asked me to send digital photos of the Museum's scrolls to Bonn. This led to a visit from the project's leading expert, Dr. Irmtraut Munro, who was able to identify everything we had. She informed us that the material from the tin box was indeed the remainder of the papyrus in the gallery and--to our delight--that this particular Book of the Dead was one of the finest in the world of its date, around 320 BCE!

We then realized there was some urgency in saving this papyrus. The FAE went into high gear to raise the funds that will allow Dr. Munro and two conservators from the Bonn Project to come to the ROM for the month of May, when they will unroll, soften, reconstruct, and mount the artifact. Their efforts will add some five five metres (about 5 H yards) to the existing fragment in the gallery, resulting in a stunning renewal of our Book of the Dead.

Special thanks are also due to Deloitte & Touche LLP through Michael Badali and to Dr. Robert Josephson for major donations to the project.
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Title Annotation:Friends
Author:Shaw, Roberta
Publication:ROM Magazine
Date:Jun 22, 2008
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Next Article:Sponsorship at the ROM.

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