'When he arrived at the Museum in 1835, the hieroglyphic script had only just been deciphered, so the first step forward was to read all the inscriptions on his coffins, which told us who he was, what his job was, and something about the religious background that he knew. '
He was a priest in the Temple of Karnak around 250 BC. Like all Egyptians, he believed that if his body was preserved, he would live beyond death, but before reaching the afterlife, he would have to undertake a hazardous journey, for which he needed to prepare with the utmost care.
So he took with him charms, amulets and spells for every eventuality. On the lid of his inner coffin, he even had painted a map of the heavens stretched out above him as an aid to navigation. Hornedjitef has, in fact, commissioned his own personal firmament and time-machine. This elaborate coffin will let him travel through both time and space, and all this meticulous preparation on his part has allowed us to travel in the opposite direction, back to him and to his world.
'In the last 20 years, there have been huge steps forward in ways of gathering information.
So we're now looking at the condition of the bodies non-invasively, just by scanning them.
We can examine the teeth in great detail, look at the wear and the dental disease that they suffered from, we can look at the bones, we can see now that Hornedjitef had arthritis in his back which must have been very painful for him. ' (John Taylor)
But the scientific advances of the last couple of decades have allowed us to find out about a great deal more than Hornedjitef's bad back.
If the words on his coffin tell us about his place in society and what that society believed about life after death, the new scientific techniques let us go one stage further - to analyse the materials with which mummies and coffins were made, and to see how Egypt was connected to the world round about it.
'But we can also look at substances that are being used in mummification, we can test them, we can look at the chemical composition of them to find out what materials were being used - maybe now we can look at where they were coming from.
We can compare these chemical make-ups with substances found in different parts of the Mediterranean, and begin to reconstruct the trading networks that supplied these things to Egypt. 下载全新《每日英语听力》客户端，查看完整内容