Mummies in Texas (1)
The Houston Museum of Natural Science
5555 Hermann Park Dr.
Ankh-Hap is the Lone Star State's lone mummy. I think that Ankh-hap deserves a gold star too for all that he's been through. He's certainly one of the mummies in America most in need of a hug. Frank L. Holt attempts to unravel his mystery in Archaeology: November/December 1991 issue. The article, Mystery Mummy: Unraveling the Remains of Ankh-hap the Egyptian is a fascinating read, and the information that follows is largely from that article.
On June 19, 1987 concerned scholars from the University of Houston and the Houston Museum of Natural Science created the HMRP, the Houston Mummy Research Program, to study the mummy that had been placed in their care. The least destructive technology then available was to be used in the study of Ankh-hap's remains.
The HMNS acquired Ankh-Hap in 1970 as a permanent loan from Texas A&M University. He had spent many years there in the Serum Laboratory Museum where he had been surrounded by fossils, plants, animal bones, and Native American tools which had been collected along the Brazos River and its tributaries. He remained in storage at the Museum of Natural Science until June 26, 1985 when he was officially registered. The museum's records from this period describe the brittle condition of the coffin, and the even poorer condition of its mummy. The skull had been broken and was held in place by a wooden dowel. Bones and debris were scattered on the floor of the coffin. Wasps had even built a nest inside of Ankh-Hap's head. The information they received from Texas A&M stated that his name was "Anh-hr-h3cpj" and that he was a tax collector from 2000 BC.
In the Summer of 1987, HMRP's first step was a CAT-scan of the mummy at the University of Houston where in 600 "slices" he was scanned foot to head, chest to back, and side to side. The data was processed by the Cullen Lab at the University and the researchers were shocked at what they found. Besides the visible dowel holding its head in place, the rest of the body was bound together by six additional wooden poles. The spinal column was severed, and almost nothing remained from the lower-torso to neck. Rebecca Storey, a physical anthropologist at the University examined both the Cat-scan data and the mummy itself. She saw that other than a partial pelvis and some missing toes, the lower body was mostly intact. The torso however was another story. The torso was all but gone. What remained was a crazy jumble of broken ribs, shoulder blades, and a few arm bones. The hands of the mummy, it turned out, were just rolls of linen. A few bones from the right hand had been placed in the left hand bundle, and the left hand bones were scattered on top of his left foot. The lower jaw was completely gone (though it is shown in-place in a 1942 photo). The bones of his face, upper jaw, and a few teeth were lying in the bottom of the coffin. Storey pieced together a story from what remained. He had been in his late 30's or early 40's when he died. As a child he may have been sickly and had anemia. In later years he had suffered with arthritis in his neck. The real Ankh-Hap was starting to come into focus.
And now they turned to the sticks. Had the mummy been "repaired" with sticks in antiquity as had the Manchester mummy no. 1770, or in more modern times? Microscopic analysis of the neck stick showed that it came from a tree like a Douglas fir. Certainly not many Douglas firs in ancient Egypt. The next step was carbon dating. Wood from the coffin itself gave a date of around 1000 BC. Stylistically the coffin seemed to be from the later Third Intermediate Period further narrowing the date of its manufacture to around the seventh century B.C. A piece of cloth that contained a resin soaked package of right rib and left shoulder blade which had been lying on the coffin floor, and therefore pointed to an ancient "repair," offered up a date in the second century of the Roman era. And finally that coniferous neck pole; it turned out to date around 1700 AD. They asked themselves what scenarios best fit all this data. Had this man been mutilated in antiquity, before being poorly embalmed and buried in a second-hand coffin during the Roman period? If so, was this even Ankh-Hap at all? And as for the date of those sticks, was it in more modern times that had he been "reassembled" and matched with a stray coffin for the antiquities market? Perhaps he had even been "disassembled" by his curious modern purchaser before being artlessly reassembled?
To try and answer the questions posed by the CT-scans and Carbon 14 dates, they turned to some good old detective work. Archival records and old newspapers produced a welter of dubious and contradictory information: He was either found in 1873 or 1891, possibly in the Valley of the Kings. He had been a tax-collector for Ramses II. He had been bought from a traveling-show by a famous veterinarian who had X-rayed him. And finally he had been lost for awhile before turning up in a men's restroom. What was the real story?
They found some more evidence in the bottom of the coffin itself. Six wads of newspaper used to pack the mummy from the LA Examiner and the Rochester Herald, dating to early 1914, and an old mailing label addressed to George English of Ward's Scientific. Rochester, New York dated May 12, 1914. They found that Mr. English had indeed worked as a geologist for Ward's from 1913-1921.
Further newspaper articles from the 1930's-70's suggest that it was Mark Francis, "father of the Texas Cattle Industry" and dean of the school of Veterinary Medicine at A&M who had purchased the mummy either from a traveling show or a defunct Wichita Falls museum between 1914-1921. Something certainly happened in 1914, but what?
The first attempt at a translation of the hieroglyphs on Ankh-Hap's coffin occurred in 1921 and was prepared by Dr. Lutz of the University of Pennsylvania at the behest of Prof. Ball, a colleague of Francis. A more recent translation gives the standard funerary formula asking for bread, beer, flesh, fowl, milk, wine, incense, oil, alabaster, cloth, and everything that is good and pure for the deceased. There is no mention of his being a tax collector, and his mother's name is given as Maat-Djehuty and his father's name, a bit unclear, is something like Padi, Pya or Pamaa.
Francis kept the mummy in his classroom for years as an object of curiosity. After his death in 1936 it was displayed in the A&M's museum. After World War II the mummy was misplaced until being found again in a men's room. He is still very much a mystery, though he is now very much loved at the Houston Museum of Natural science as this page shows. However, security guard John Longoria suggests he may not like to be around other mummies.
Frank L. Holt
Vol. 44, No. 6 (NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1991), pp. 44-51
Van Siclen, Charles Cornell. The Mummy and Coffin of Ankh-Hap at the Houston Museum of Natural Science: A Brief Description. San Antonio, Tex. (111 Winnetka Rd., San Antonio): Van Siclen Books, 1992.
Possible coffin connections in other museums.
Ankh-Hap in the British Museum: Hapiankh, (same hieroglyphic spelling at HMNS coffin) Doorkeeper of Amun, son of Djehutymaat and Tetineferhotep. N.B. Maat-Djehuty was also the HMNS coffin owner's mother, though the father's name is given as Padi, Pya or Pamaa, this certainly warrants further investigation.
Ankh-Hap is recorded as the son of Nes-Min on his coffin in Liverpool