At the close of her four-year project studying Ti-Ameny-Net, the mummy housed in the University of Richmond’s Ancient World Gallery, Caroline Cobert, ’12, describes her first time alone with her as an “eerie” experience.
“It was hard at first to touch her and move her and be in the gallery by myself with her,” she says. “[I had to] remember that she’s not a horror movie monster. She’s a person, and she had a life. She was once just like us.”
The story of Ti-Ameny-Net is just what Cobert hopes to bring to life in an upcoming exhibit at the Lora Robins Gallery. “Ti-Ameny-Net: An Ancient Mummy, An Egyptian Woman, and Modern Science,” will feature an exhibition of funerary iconography, including Ti-Ameny-Net’s coffin; the University’s collection of Egyptian artifacts; and an education gallery that coincides with Virginia’s Standards of Learning.
Cobert also will present the findings of her four-year study into the life of Ti-Ameny-Net. Her research culminated in a series of full-body CT scans, X-rays, and DNA analysis — with the help of Ann Fulcher, ’83, chair of radiology at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center — that attempted to define the life and death of Richmond’s mummy.
“We found so much from these images — they’re incredible scans,” Cobert says. “Her preservation is really complete. You can see the bones and a lot of the muscles on the CT scans.
“Textbook readings make it seem that it’s very common to determine ailments in ancient bodies. [For example,] if nutrition is bad, if she couldn’t get all the food she needed, the teeth wear down. But from everything we could tell, she was actually in really great health. It’s an interesting example of someone who really has no trace of why they may have died.”
Ti-Ameny-Net’s travels after death were also under investigation. Cobert consulted historical documents and Collegian newspaper archives to address discrepancies about the mummy’s various homes over the years, and the campus community’s changing attitudes toward her.
“We found a lot of articles, ranging back to 1918, that discussed the mummy,” Cobert says. “She was in the library. Later she ended up in the biology museum, and then in the late 1970s, the Ancient World Gallery was founded by Dr. [Stuart] Wheeler. We were trying to put to rest some of the rumors about places she’d been and sororities and fraternities that had pranked around with her.”
And how have Cobert’s own feelings about Ti-Ameny-Net changed since that first eerie encounter? “I guess you could say we’ve developed a friendship.”