Thursday, October 23, 2014


Researcher Marleen De Meyer of the University of Leuven in Belgium was excavating Old Kingdom cave graves in Dayr al-Barsha, Egypt, when she turned over what she thought was a potsherd on the way to the storage tent. What she held in her hands was a rare 4,000-year-old death mask. Similar masks have long believed to have been modeled after the deceased, but the texturesof textile strips (IMAGE ABOVE, MORE HERE) suggested that the plaster had been applied to the face. But no traces of the face on the inside were visible, just clay. The archaeologists reasoned that the plaster mask was made and removed, then the body was mummified and clay applied to the face, after which the mask was pressed into that clay. They performed experimental archaeology, with a member of the team volunteering to be the corpse, and determined just that. They are now awaiting permission to carry out a CT scan of the artifact which will show the exact form of the ancient Egyptian's face sandwiched between the plaster and the clay.

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