Israel Museum in Jerusalem debuts 2,220 year-old mummy

The Mummy, nicknamed “Alex,” the only one in Israel is the embalmed body of Iret-hor-iru, a high-ranking priest who died at age 40, and who suffered from tooth decay & osteoporosis, a condition associated with modern day ailments.

By Yori Yalon & Israel Hayom Staff


An ancient artifact get the high-tech treatment: In a new exhibit that opens Tuesday at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, visitors can view an actual 2,200-year-old mummy. The museum exhibit is tricked out with cutting-edge technology designed to teach visitors about the embalming techniques employed by the ancient Egyptians.

The embellished mummy case containing the remains of the priest Iret-hor-iru – Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon

The main draw of the exhibit, titled “A Mummy in Jerusalem: Secrets of the Afterlife,” is the mummy itself, the embalmed body of Iret-hor-iru (“The Protective Eye of Horus”), a high-ranking priest from the city of Akhmim. The mummy, the only one in Israel, was given to the Jerusalem Pontifical Biblical Institute in around 1930 in honor of its inauguration by the Jesuits in Alexandria.

Little was known about the mummy, nicknamed “Alex” after the city from which it arrived. Researchers initially believed the mummy to be the body of a 17-year-old boy, but later investigation by museum staff in conjunction with researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Carmel Medical Center at the University of Haifa, including a CT scan, revealed new information about the mummy’s life more than two millennia ago.

“The scans reveal that the mummy was preserved in excellent condition and we can see bones, teeth, tissue, blood vessels, and even eyelashes,” explains curator Galit Bennett-Dahan.

“It turns out that Iret-hor-iru was about 40 years old when he died and 1.67 meters [about 5 feet, 6 inches] tall,” she added.

According to Bennett-Dahan, the CT scan also revealed that the priest suffered from osteoporosis, which surprised doctors, as the disease is generally associated with the 20th century, and from tooth decay.


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