Conserving the body of a Predynastic Egyptian

Predynastic Egyptian man

The body of a Predynastic Egyptian man, probably from Gebelein, went on display in the British Museum in March 1900.

Some splitting of the skin covering the body was always evident, probably caused by contraction of the skin as it originally dried out. By the mid-1980s it had become apparent that some treatment would be desirable. In some areas the skin was badly cracked and lifting away from the underlying bone and tissue.

This was very noticeable on the skull where the skin had lifted leaving a gap of about a centimetre in places. In addition, the remaining hair was very brittle and poorly attaSkin repositioned and securedched.

Human remains need to be conserved with particular care, so options for treatment were carefully considered. After cleaning and consolidation, the vulnerable areas of skin and hair were eased into their original positions and secured with an adhesive.

An improved mount was made to provide greater support for the head, which must originally have rested on an incline.

The mount was padded and covered with a suitable fabric before the body was gently rested on it again. While on display, the body is checked and monitored regularly.
The original display mountConstructing a padded mountThe improved display mount

Images (from top, left to right):

Skin lifting away from skull
Skin repositioned and secured
The original display mount
Constructing a padded mount
The improved display mount

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