Our changing relationship with Irtyru

Painting of mummified body being examined by a group of men. Some are wearing red fez hats. A crowd of women are watching the examination.
“Examination of a mummy”, by Paul Dominique Philippoteaux (1891).

A wrong history

Painting of a white man wearing a white shirt, white neck tie and dark coat.
Monochrome engraving of a man with light hair wearing a white shirt, white neck tie and dark coat.
Figure 1: Dominique Vivant Denon, by Robert Lefevre (1809). Figure 2: Sebastien Louis Saulnier.

A case of mistaken identity?

The autopsy of Irtyru

X-ray of a human torso showing a staple around the spine.
X-ray of a human skull with a hook attached to the top of the cranium.
X-rays showing the staple in Irtyru’s body and the bolt and ring attachment in her skull.

Mummification and the afterlife

A painting showing ancient Egyptians performing a mummification ritual
Artist’s impression of mummification of the dead.

Impact of colonialism and Western beliefs

Newspaper article reading “Mummy takes its curse to Paris. An Egyptian mummy, complete with a suspected curse, was on its way yesterday from Tyneside to the Louvre Museum in Paris.”
Local newspaper report on the loan of Irtyru to the Louvre in the mid 1990s. The headline reads “Mummy takes its curse to Paris”.
Colour poster for the film The Mummy starring Boris Karloff.
Poster for the 1932 film “The Mummy”.

The future of Irtyru

Further reading



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Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Major regional museum, art gallery and archives service. We manage a collection of nine venues across Tyneside and the Archives for Tyne and Wear.