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Could Shawnee's Egyptian Mummy Be A Man?


October 3, 2019

A reconstructed, realistic bust of Tutu.

Could Tutu, Shawnee's rare Egyptian mummy since 1921 and the planet's since 100 to 150 years before Christ, have been a man?

"That was the big news" that Dr. Foy Scalf, head of research archives at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute revealed at a Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art event early last month at the Shawnee museum, Delaynna Trim, museum curator of collections, said Monday.

"The big thing that he revealed is that Tutu is a male name. We had heard that before, but we thought it was a mistake," Trim said.

"He said there was 'a very minute chance' that she was a male, but what probably happened, the headpiece and breast plate were for the same person but were probably put on this mummy at a later time," she said.

"That's probably the most likely explanation. Maybe her headpiece and breast plate were damaged, but they just put these on her."

Trim said the museum will do further research and investigation, however.

Much work and multiple X-ray and CT scans have been done over the years toward identifying the contents of the 2,000-year-old mummy since it arrived in Oklahoma in 1921. The overwhelming evidence points to the remains inside once being a woman who had given birth and was originally identified as Princess Menne when discovered near an ancient Egyptian pyramid in the late 1890s.

As soon as the more than 100 attendees arrived at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum for the Sept. 7 membership program, they were directed to the first public viewing of two busts showing the scientifically reconstructed facial features of the mummy, both identical except one appears more realistic with olive skin tones and a hairdo of its period.

"The other one has more of a Roman sculpture look; it's white," Trim said.

The complex 3D recreation of Tutu's bust was done by Dr. Jonathan Elias of Pennsylvania, who first visited the museum a few years ago "with colleagues who were touring the country looking at mummies," Trim said.

His extensive task of creating Tutu's face as it would have looked in life was based on CT scans done by St. Anthony Hospital Shawnee in August 2015.

"People were really excited to see her face and I think people were very excited to hear the information that Dr. Scalf had to offer. Dr. Scalf gave a very great presentation," Trim said.

The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art in Shawnee not only possesses the only two mummies in Oklahoma, but two of the few mummies in this region of the United States, she said.

The late Father Gregory Gerrer, O.S.B., amassed the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art collection of fine art representing all of history's most significant art periods and artifacts from worldwide. The collection is 100 years old this year.

Fr. Gerrer purchased Tutu's mummy and one other, still unnamed and yet to be thoroughly researched, at an auction at the Glen Island Museum in New York in October 1921, Trim said. He brought them to Shawnee to add to his collection at then-St. Gregory's College.

"The next thing will be to do some more research on her," the collections curator said of the unnamed mummy.

Dr. Scalf's talk entitled "Body-brokers in Ptolemaic Egypt: The Life and After Life of Tutu and her mummy," followed the viewing, music on Arabic instruments by the Callen Clarke Trio from Oklahoma City, and Egyptian style foods prepared by Chef Matthew Johnson of Shawnee.

An advance press release about his presentation states "it is the story of a woman named Tutu and her experience in ancient Egypt. When she died at the end of the second century B.C. near a city named Hawara in Egypt, dramatic changes were taking place under the government of Ptolemaic pharaohs from Macedonia.

"She lived in the region of Fayum, spotted with lush lakes and canals where the administration had focused intense immigration, settlement, land reclamation and agriculture." It states that along with these changes came a boon for workers who produced, transported and buried mummies from around the region.

"Hundreds of documents from their archives documenting their practices exist to today."

Dr. Scalf told the gathering that Tutu was probably in her 40s when she died, Trim said. "We don't know if she was royalty, but probably was upper class. She had good bones and teeth, meaning good nutrition during her lifetime, so she was probably upper class.

"You had to have some money to pay for all that mummification process," Trim said. She was probably mummified between 100 and 150 B.C., she added.

"The big news on her was that her headpiece and breast piece probably went to another mummy. We're doing further research and investigation.

"We originally thought Tutu's name was Princess Menne," Trim continued. "In 1992, Dr. Emily Teeter of the Oriental Institute in Chicago read the hieroglyphics on her breast plate and realized her name was actually Tutu."

Louis Bennet of Buffalo, N.Y., discovered the mummy first known as Princess Menne near the pyramid of Hawara-el-Marketea, which was built by a king in the twelfth dynasty, according to more detailed information about the mummy's past provided by Trim.

Bennet presented it to the Glen Island Museum in 1897. The Glen Island Corporation declared bankruptcy in 1917, and on October 17-22, 1921, the contents of the Glen Island Museum were sold at auction.

It was then that Fr. Gerrer purchased "Princess Menne" for the new museum he had very recently founded in Shawnee.

"Tutu was X-rayed in 1963 at the University of Oklahoma Medical School and again in 1991 at Shawnee Medical Center Hospital. In 1993, Bob Pickering, then of the Denver Museum of Natural History, analyzed "Princess Menne's X-rays and CT scans," Trim said.

Among his findings were that her back shows she suffered from arthritis, she was probably in her 40s when she died, and that she had given birth. Her legs are extended and her arms are folded over the chest as is consistent with high status mummification. Her mouth is open to allow evil spirits to escape from the body.

"She has most of her teeth, which is unusual for her time, and she had degeneration in her knee joints," Trim said Pickering's analysis showed.

More than 100 people gathered at the Mabbe-Gerrer Museum for the unwrapping of Tutu.

The most recent scans were done in August 2015, using a 64 slice CT scanner at St. Anthony Shawnee Hospital.

"These were the scans analyzed by Dr. Jonathan Elias," Trim concluded, and which he used as the basis for his recreation of Tutu's, once known as Princess Menne's face and bust.

The busts are not yet on display in the Shawnee art museum, Trim said. "We need to do some work in the gallery to make space for them. That work is ongoing. Hopefully, that will be done by the end of October. We're trying to get everything done quickly."

The next event at which the mummies will be featured will be an admission-free Mummy Day, from 1-3 pm Saturday, Nov. 2, at the museum.

"It's mainly for kids, with games and activities, but anyone can come and have fun," Trim said.


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