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Clay mummiform figurine which was extracted from within the wrappings of the mummy of the incense-bearer of the temple of Amun, Hor (EA6659). Radiography has revealed that it contains a small, unidentified cylindrical object.
- Excavated/Findspot: Thebes
- (Africa,Egypt,Upper Egypt,Thebes (Upper Egypt - archaic))
Found in .6659
28 April 1999
Reason for analysis
Analysis of Exudate From Clay Shabti EA66849
The unfired clay Shabti EA66849 was originally associated with the mummy EA6659 anddates from the third intermediate period 1070-712BC. It will be displayed in the newEgyptian Galleries; and was moved to room 62 to prepare case mock-ups. During enablingwork for the Great Court Project the heating to the area had been disconnected.Consequently high relative humidities were experienced during the winter of 1998/1999. Theshabti was observed to be exuding a pale yellow, viscous liquid. The object was moved to theceramic conservation workshop, where the exudate was sampled. Analysis was requested toidentify it. The surface exudate had disappeared before it could be observed by the authorsand all analysis was carried out on the sample removed previously.Analysis with Fourier Transform infra-red spectroscopy utilising a diamond cell and beamcondensor produced a very weak spectrum (ANAL/EA66849.SPA), due to the limited samplesize. The spectrum was indicative of a polysaccharide gum, and matched gum arabic from alibrary of standard spectra. However, the low quality of the spectrum cast some doubt on theidentification and a spot test for gums was undertaken (1). The sample was extracted in colddistilled water for sixteen hours. Xero radiography had indicated that malt husks may bepresent in the shabti. Their presence could affect the analysis, as they can be a source of lowmolecular weight sugars which would give a false positive result with the spot test, hence theextract was split into two portions. Dilute sulphuric acid was added to one portion and it wasdigested at 100°C in the normal manner of the test. The second portion was also digested at100°C with no acid addition. One drop of 6N ammonium hydroxide solution was added tothree drops of each of the digests. The water extracted portion gave a negative test with otoluidinereagent, indicating that no free sugars were present in the sample. The acid digestedextract gave a positive test, indicating the material to be a complex polysaccharide andconfirming the presence of a gum.Crystals were observed on the surface of the shabti and these were sampled onto a gelatin stripand analysed using x-ray diffraction (film number c2075). This indicated the presence ofhalite, NaCl and some calcite, CaC03. Efflorescence was observed on addition of dilute nitricacid to the sample, confirming the presence of carbonate (2). A white precipitate formedwhen silver nitrate solution was added to the acid solution of the sample, confirming chloride(2).The exudate is a polysaccharide gum, possibly gum arabic. The use of this material in shabtihas not been reported, although such analysis is unlikely to have been undertaken previously.The use of gum arabic to fasten together linen wrappings on mummies is well documented (3);and migration from the linen into the porous clay shabti would certainly be possible. Theefflorescence was identified as halite, with calcite probably being removed from the surfacewith the salt sample. The halite my have deliquesced at the high RH experienced anddissolved the gum arabic, producing the exudate.
Analysis reference number
Ancient Egypt & Sudan
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Object reference number: YCA63260
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