Curator’s Talk – Ancient Lives: New Discoveries


Members of the public and staff members were treated to an excellent talk on Friday by Marie Vandenbeusch, a curator of the new “Ancient Lives” exhibition at the British Museum.

The exhibition introduces visitors to eight people from ancient Egypt and Sudan whose bodies have been preserved, either naturally or by deliberate embalming. Although the subject may be mummies, the exhibition is about life far more than death. Using the latest computer technology, the exhibition unlocks hidden secrets to paint a picture of people’s lives in the Nile Valley over a remarkable 4,000 years – from prehistoric Egypt to Christian Sudan.

The talk was a fascinating glimpse into methods used to unwrap the past, as Marie described the everchanging approaches to looking at mummies, from the invasive removal of wrappings by archeologists in the 19th century, to the unobtrusive and yet revealing technology of 21st century CT scans.

Marie explained how as CT scans have become more sophisticated, we are able to determine not just what happened to these people after death, but how they fared in life – from their everyday diet to the afflictions they suffered.

The audience was shown photographs of the exhibits along with astute commentary by Marie, and afterwards offered their own challenging questions.

The exhibition itself is a sensitive account of the lives of Nile Valley residents of the past, and we look forward to sharing it with ITP participants!