A rare 2,800-year-old mummified Egyptian head brought back to the UK by a British soldier during World War One has gone on sale.

The artefact, which was stuffed away in a cupboard for decades because ‘it is not everyone’s cup of tea’, has an eye-watering price tag of £20,000.

It has been carbon dated to between 750 and 800BC.

The head remained in the unnamed soldier’s family for a century. He put it under a glass dome to preserve it but as some visitors did not like looking at it, the artefact ended up being tucked away in a cupboard.

It is now being sold by one of the soldier’s descendants, who has chosen to remain anonymous. 

Peculiar: A rare 2,800-year-old mummified Egyptian head which was brought back to the UK by a British soldier during World War War has gone on sale

Peculiar: A rare 2,800-year-old mummified Egyptian head which was brought back to the UK by a British soldier during World War War has gone on sale

Peculiar: A rare 2,800-year-old mummified Egyptian head which was brought back to the UK by a British soldier during World War War has gone on sale

‘It’s just been kept in a cupboard as it is not everyone’s cup of tea,’ said the anonymous Oxfordshire vendor selling the head.

‘It would be ideal if it could go somewhere where it can be studied and appreciated.

‘I’m hoping that a museum will pick up on the carbon dating and historical importance.

‘If it doesn’t sell, I will probably loan it to a museum where it can be on display anyway.’

The head is going under the hammer at Swan Fine Art auctions, which is based in Tetsworth, Oxon.

Matthew Hull, specialist at Swan Fine Art, said: ‘It’s very rare to see an Egyptian mummy head from the ancient world at public auction, particularly a piece with such superb preservation.’

Mummification in ancient Egypt involved removing the corpse’s internal organs, desiccating the body with a mixture of salts, and then wrapping it in cloth soaked in a balm of plant extracts, oils, and resins.  

Older mummies are believed to have been naturally preserved by burying them in dry desert sand and were not chemically treated.  

The Egyptians considered that there was no life better than the present, so wanted to be sure it would continue after death.

This led to the mummification process, which came about amid fears that if the body was destroyed, a person’s spirit might be lost in the afterlife.

Rare: The artefact, which was stuffed away in a cupboard for decades because 'it is not everyone's cup of tea', has an eye-watering price tag of £20,000

Rare: The artefact, which was stuffed away in a cupboard for decades because 'it is not everyone's cup of tea', has an eye-watering price tag of £20,000

Rare: The artefact, which was stuffed away in a cupboard for decades because ‘it is not everyone’s cup of tea’, has an eye-watering price tag of £20,000

Stashed: The head remained in the soldier's family for a century. He put it under a glass dome to preserve it but as some visitors did not like looking at it the artefact ended up tucked away in a cupboard

Stashed: The head remained in the soldier's family for a century. He put it under a glass dome to preserve it but as some visitors did not like looking at it the artefact ended up tucked away in a cupboard

Stashed: The head remained in the soldier’s family for a century. He put it under a glass dome to preserve it but as some visitors did not like looking at it the artefact ended up tucked away in a cupboard

Pharaohs of Egypt were usually mummified and buried in elaborate tombs, while members of the nobility and officials also often received the same treatment.

Occasionally common people did too, but because the process was expensive it was out of the reach of most. 

This head going up for sale was mummified during the Third Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt (1070-664BC).

The era began with the death of Pharaoh Ramesses XI in 1070 BC and was seen as one of decline and political instability. 

It coincided with the Late Bronze Age collapse of civilizations in the ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean.

The auction of the head will take place on Wednesday (May 3).

EMBALMING THE DEAD IN ANCIENT EGYPT

It is thought a range of chemicals were used to embalm and preserve the bodies of the dead in ancient cultures. 

Russian scientists believe a different balm was used to preserve hair fashions of the time than the concoctions deployed on the rest of the body.

Hair was treated with a balm made of a combination of beef fat, castor oil, beeswax and pine gum and with a drop of aromatic pistachio oil as an optional extra.

Mummification in ancient Egypt involved removing the corpse’s internal organs, desiccating the body with a mixture of salts, and then wrapping it in cloth soaked in a balm of plant extracts, oils, and resins.  

Older mummies are believed to have been naturally preserved by burying them in dry desert sand and were not chemically treated.  

Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) techniques have been deployed in recent years in find out more about the ancient embalming process. 

Studies have found bodies were embalmed with: a plant oil, such as sesame oil; phenolic acids, probably from an aromatic plant extract; and polysaccharide sugars from plants.

The recipe also featured dehydroabietic acid and other diterpenoids from conifer resin.

This post first appeared on Dailymail.co.uk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Battlefield 2042 beta start time, pre-download, and how to get in

BATTLEFIELD 2042 may have been delayed, but the beta is here at…

The Enduring Power of #FreeBritney

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the…

League of Legends Season 2023 overview: all new skins, rewards, and champions

LEAGUE of Legends season 2023 starts tomorrow, with the season kick-off on…

What It’ll Take to Get Electric Planes off the Ground

A few years ago, while driving on a stretch of interstate between…