A beautiful exhibit on ancient Egypt at the Albany Institute of History and Art is the current home of a 3,000-year-old mummy called Ankhefenmut, whose true identity was only relatively recently discovered thanks to the marvels of modern medicine.
Ankhefenmut is one of a pair of mummies at the institute whose remains were found at Bab el-Gasus (“Gate of the Priests”) in Egypt, and date to the 21st Dynasty between 1069 and 945 BC. When the mummy arrived at the Albany Institue in 1909, it was fully wrapped (the other was half-wrapped) and was assumed to be a female, due to some unknown seed of misinformation planted decades ago. This misassumption lasted nearly 100 years, until an Egyptologist named Peter Lacovara visited the institute in the 2000s and had a hunch.
Suspicious of the gender, Lacovara suggested that the remains go through a CT scan and X-rays at the Albany Medical Center. To everyone’s surprise, the scans revealed that the mummy had male pelvis bones, a masculine jaw shape, and thicker bones characteristic of the male anatomy. After further careful study of the bones and the corresponding coffin—whose ornate decorations included a name inscribed in hieroglyphics—researchers were able to identify the mummy as Ankhefenmut, a male priest and sculptor of the Temple of Mut near Luxor.
Once the identity was confirmed, the ancient priest’s robe and mummy board were located and put on display at the institute next to the remains. The display is located in the Heinrich Medicus Gallery along with over 70 other ancient Egyptian objects.
Know Before You Go
The Institute of History and Art is open Wednesday through Sunday; hours vary. Special group tours are available by appointment. There is a parking lot a the institute and metered parking is also available on the surrounding streets.