Mysterious Mummy ‘Princess’ Examined in Pakistan
An ancient mummified "princess" in a gold-studded casket may have originated in Egypt or Iran before appearing on Pakistan's black market, an archaeologist said Thursday.
Archaeologist Ahmed Hasan Dani of Islamabad's Quaid-e-Azam University who examined the mummy, said it was complete with a golden crown and breastplate and was in the Egyptian style but engravings on the plate were in ancient Persian.
The mummy was examined Thursday at Karachi's National Museum, where it has been stored since police retrieved it from a tribal headman in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's western Baluchistan province, earlier this month.
"It is still a mystery whether it is Egyptian or Iranian. We have to find out which country the mummy belongs to but the style is definitely Egyptian," Dani told AFP.
"It will take some time to find out all the details."
Police are also mystified how the 2,600-year-old mummy appeared in the possession of tribal leader Wali Mohammad Reeki.
Karachi police chief Tariq Jamil said Reeki had been arrested along with another man, Ali Akbar, who was found in Karachi with a video of the mummy allegedly to help in its sale.
They are facing charges under the Antiquities Act, which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years jail, he said.
The men had received offers of up to 60 million rupees (1.1 million dollars) for the mummy, although they were asking as much as 600 million rupees.
Reeki told police he had received the mummy from Haji Sharif Shah Bakhi, believed to be an Iranian, who had found it in a house after an earthquake in the central Baluchistan town of Kharan.
The two had agreed to sell it and divide the profits. Jamil said police also wanted to question Bakhi whose whereabouts were unknown.
Archaeologists who studied the mummy Thursday said it appeared to be the remains of an 18-year-old Persian princess by the name of Khor-ul-Gayan or Tundal Gayan.
It was dated to the time of the Persian Khamam-ul-Nishiyan dynasty around 600 BC. Karoosh-ul-Kabir, the first Khamam-ul-Nishiyan ruler, is believed to have been her father.
Its wooden sarcophagus is engraved with drawings of Ahura Mazda, the supreme Zoroastrian diety of Persia, with altars and sacred flowers.
The mummy itself is wrapped in the Egyptian way and lying on a mat covered in a mixture of wax and honey. Its hands are crossed on its chest and appear to be holding something.
The mummy's golden crown and facemask are designed in the form of seven sacred plants, while the breastplate is engraved with ancient Persian Makhi cuneiform script.
Dani said the mummy could have been brought from Egypt to Iran by an Iranian prince who may have married an Egyptian princess.
He said Kharan, about 60 kilometers (10 miles) west of Quetta, was the site of several ancient temples of the age, where contemporary fortune hunters still searched for treasure.
Police said security had been beefed up around the museum -- KARACHI (AFP)
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