Meet Ta-Bast

Meet Ta-Bast, an Egyptian mummy in the Museum of Ancient Art at the University of Aarhus in Denmark.

Ta-Bast in the Museum of Ancient Art, University of Aarhus. Photo: TMK, August 2005.

Based on its inscriptions, the coffin has been dated to the 21st dynasty (1070-945 BCE). According to Torben Holm-Rasmussen, it is typical of this dynasty. It probably comes from the Temple of Hatshepsut west of Luxor at Deir el-Bahri, where large-scale ‘excavations’ were carried out in 1891. Various scientific dating methods (including C14-dating) have confirmed this date.

The coffin inscription gives us the name (Ta-Bast) and occupation (singer in a Temple of Amon) of the deceased. On the coffin, Ta-Bast is shown as a young and beautiful woman, worshipping Horus and Maat.

However, x-ray examinations of the mummy have revealed a quite different picture. In her mouth, Ta-Bast had only one tooth left. She had suffered from various diseases including arthritis and had also broken several bones in her body, so in real life she was probably only barely able to walk. Her age at the time of death was estimated to have been between 40 and 60 years old.

Contrary to Egyptian custom, the brain had not been removed through the nose. In general, the embalming of Ta-Bast was poorly done and her body is today almost entirely skeletal.

E. B. Thorling, M. Gregersen, J.C. Hansen & B. Madsen. 1994. “Den √•rhusianske mumie Ta-Bast”, Papyrus 14.1: 12-16.

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