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History of Ti Ameny Net

Ti Ameny Net was buried in a tomb near Thebes, Upper Egypt, probably during the Egyptian 26th dynasty, between the years 685 and 525 BCE. This era, also known as the Saite period, was marked by Assyrian invasions and increased contacts between Egypt and the Greek world and ended with the conquest of Egypt by Persia in 525.

Ti Ameny Net died around the age of 30-35. Her cause of death remains unknown, but CT-scans made at Virginia Commonwealth Medical Center in 2010 reveal severe arthrosclerosis, calcification in the arteries of her heart. The hieroglyphic inscription on her coffin suggests that her parents predeceased her and gives their names (Nes-Ameny-Tcha and RewRew). The high quality of her coffin and the evident care taken in her mummification indicate that she belonged to an elite, wealthy family.

Ti Ameny Net was allowed to rest in her proper tomb in the sands of Egypt for about 2500 years, before being exhumed in 1869 at the order of the Khedive of Egypt and presented, reportedly along with twenty-nine other mummies, to the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). It is thought that the mummy and coffin were then given to the prince’s American translator, Edwin Smith, from whom Dr. J.L.M. Curry purchased them for the newly established museum of Richmond College, when he visited Egypt in 1875. Professor Curry, however, did not have enough funds to ship the mummy and coffin back to the US and so contracted with John Cook (of the Thomas Cook & Son travel agency) to do so, on the condition that she be displayed at their pavilion at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. (For more on this story, see “Saving the Mummy.”) Research by Caroline Cobert, ’12, has shown that at some point shortly after her discovery, certainly before arriving in Philadelphia, Ti Ameny Net was probably subject to a mummy-unwrapping party of the sort morbidly popular at the time: her head, hands, and feet were unwrapped, presumably in the hope of revealing precious jewels or amulets. Ti Ameny Net and her coffin arrived in Richmond in December 1876. She resided at Richmond College until 1914, when the campus moved to its present location around Westhampton Lake. The museum collection was at that time dispersed among different departments, and from 1914 to 1979 the mummy and coffin found various homes, including a professor’s living room and the Biology Museum in Maryland Hall. Today, Ti Ameny Net rests peacefully in the Ancient World Gallery in the Department of Classical Studies, North Court.

For an interactive exploration of Ti Ameny Net’s coffin and a full timeline of her travels, see “The Digital Afterlife of Ti Ameny Net,” an online exhibit created by Nils Niemeier, ’13, based on “Ti Ameny Net: An Ancient Mummy, an Egyptian Woman, and Modern Science” (Lora Robins Gallery for Design from Nature, 24 February – 16 November 2012). A video presentation made by Professor Stuart Wheeler is also available.