CAIRO—Egypt is restoring several of its antiquities at home and abroad. In California, researchers are examining the remains of Iret-net Hor-irw, a 2,500-year-old mummy that was discovered in a large tomb in Akhmim, the capital of an ancient province on the eastern bank of the Nile.
Scientists are using computerised tomography imaging scans to determine the identity of Iret-net, believed to have been an Egyptian priest, how he died, what was buried with him and what he looked like. The multiple scans show that the mummy is relatively well-preserved. The sophisticated technology allows researchers to develop a detailed map of the mummy's composition without resorting to invasive and damaging procedures.
Jonathan Elias, who leads the imaging research on Iret-net said that the project would "extend far beyond the analysis of a single mummy." The age of mummy and cause of death continue to puzzle scientists, who believe it dates to around 500 B.C. They hope that the scans will yield information on Iret-net's true identity.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities is restoring the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue in downtown Cairo as part of a larger campaign to preserve the most important religious sites in Egypt, including ten synagogues.
Council officials report that the project will cost US$1.05 million and will be completed by June 2010. Council Secretary General Zahi Hawass recently stated that Egypt treasures its religious antiquities, which the Council has been restoring since 2002. The restoration initiative also includes the famous Ben Ezra Synagogue in Coptic Cairo and a number of Coptic churches.
The Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue dates back to the 18th century and was designated an antiquity in 1986. Ben Maimon (1135-1204) was a Jewish philosopher who died in Egypt. It is believed that he was the private physician of Salaheddine, the legendary Arab leader, and that the synagogue was built on the site of his clinic.