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Examination of a miniature coffin, during preparations for the Death on the Nile exhibition, revealed that it contains the carefully mummified remains of a tiny foetus. Further examination of the coffin is urgently required, including CT scanning of the coffin to check its construction, analysis of any remaining pigments, and reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) to examine surface features, including the remains of the hieroglyphic inscription. Further study of the mummified remains will also be undertaken, including examination under a high-powered microscope.

The inner coffin of Pakepu is a high priority for study. The structure of the decorative layers require careful examination. A cartonnage-like overlay has possibly been identified; if confirmed over the whole structure, this could be indicate a deliberate attempt to create a ‘pseudo-cartonnage’ around the body, but encased within a wooden structure. The decoration was clearly applied after the body was inside the coffin. Comparison with other examples of this type and date will be very instructive for further understanding the religious purpose of the inner coffin.

From X-radiography, it appears that the inner coffin is constructed from fewer pieces of wood than the intermediate coffin. However, study of other coffins CT scanning has revealed the limitations of our understanding of coffin structure using only X-radiographs, and that CT scanning is absolutely essential to comprehend fully the construction of coffin substrates. Working with a specialist in rendering CT images, such as Tom Turmezei, it should be possible to identify any ‘pseudo-cartonnage’ structure (if present), as well as determining whether any of the materials have been re-used.

The coffins of Khety and Userhet also await completion of technical studies and UV and VIL imaging.