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Restoration Experts Do Mummy Makeover In MGH's Original OR

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  • Djehuti Sundaka
    http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_regional/mumm01072003.htm Restoration experts do mummy makeover in MGH s original OR by Kay Lazar Tuesday, January 7,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 8, 2003
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      http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_regional/mumm01072003.htm


      Restoration experts do mummy makeover in MGH's original OR

      by Kay Lazar
      Tuesday, January 7, 2003

      Using their own saliva on cotton swabs, restoration experts delicately
      cleaned one of the nation's premier mummies yesterday in preparation for
      exhibition at a Springfield art museum later this month.

      ``Your own saliva is a very good cleaning solution,'' said Mimi Leveque,
      consulting conservator for the daylong project at Massachusetts General
      Hospital. The work was done in the hospital's original operating room,
      the Ether Dome.

      Padihershef, a 6th-century B.C. mummy affectionately called ``Padi'' by
      MGHers, resides at the hospital when he is not touring the country.

      But Padi was in sore need of some expert cleaning because he had some
      problems the last time he went before the cameras - TV cameras, to be
      precise.

      Leveque said the bright lights used by crews to film him at the Museum
      of Science in 1999 caused some of the resin on his face to melt. That
      created salt stains as salt used in the mummification process started to
      seep out.

      The ancient Egyptians used pine and other resins to seal the skin on a
      dead body's face from air and moisture before the body was wrapped in
      linens.

      ``The resin started to melt,'' Leveque said. ``He looked like he had a
      very bad case of dandruff, a very white crusty appearance.''

      As two interns painstakingly moistened cotton swabs and gently wiped
      salt stains from Padi's 2,500-year-old face and head, Leveque
      scrutinized his 4-foot-11-inch body, wrapped in yellowed linens, for
      other damage.

      ``Every mummy is different because every person is different, but this
      guy seems to be in fairly solid shape,'' Leveque said. ``I'm shocked,
      given that he was toured around in America as a sort of side show when
      he first arrived.''

      Padi was sent to the hospital in 1823 as a gift from Dutch merchant
      Jacob Van Lennep. He was one of the first mummies to come to the United
      States.

      Later that year, Padi was released from the hospital and took a tour of
      the United States.

      Experts who have studied Padi determined he was a male who died in his
      late 40s of unknown causes.

      About 20 years ago, experts also deciphered the coffin's ancient
      writings, known as hieroglyphics, to figure out his name and his
      history. It is believed he was an unmarried stone cutter from the famous
      City of the Dead in Thebes.

      The centuries-old hieroglyphics and painted pictures on Padi's coffin
      are still vibrant shades of turquoise, burnt orange, sage and white. But
      time has taken its toll, with some cracked paint and plaster.

      Mixing their own adhesives, the experts yesterday patched worn areas.
      Leveque said they had to use materials that would stand a very long test
      of time.

      Padi is scheduled to head out today to Springfield for a major Ancient
      Egypt exhibit later this month at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art
      Museum.


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