The Mummy Bands

Photo of KV 55 coffin in situ with possible gold mummy bands highlighted
in yellow. (Photo: from ToQT, pl. XXX. Adapted from Martha Bell's
diagram of gold band positions, JARCE 27 [1990], fig. 9.) 

    Weigall reported that gold mummy bands were wrapped around the outside of the mummy at right angles to the bandages, some of which had cartouches of (allegedly) Akhenaten cut out (JEA 8 [1922], 196-197; LToA, 231, 242.) None of the others present during the clearance of the tomb mentioned the mummy bands in their written accounts, and Elizabeth Thomas reported that Corinna L. Smith, who was present when the tomb was opened, could not recall seeing such bands (RNT, 154, n. 92.) Martha Bell claims that bands, running both horizontally and vertically through the debris of the coffin and mummy, can be seen in Plate XXX of Davis's The Tomb of Queen Tiyi. Bell argues that, since the objects discernable in this photographic plate don't fit the descriptions of any other items that came from the coffin, they must be the lost mummy bands. Of the bands in the photograph, Bell writes that they were approximately "two inches wide... apparently metal, and presumably gold (due to their position on the body)...They seem to have a center crease and some holes, perhaps where cartouches were cut out." (JARCE 27 [1990], 118-119, and n. 172, 173.
    A very likely possibility is that Weigall had seen inscribed gold foil banding that had once been part of the coffin's inner decoration along the rim of the basin. These could have fallen off onto the mummy along with other gold foil sections from the decayed wood of the coffin, and Weigall could have easily mistaken them for the kind of mummy bands that were used to hold a mummy's shroud in place. The photo at the top of this page shows the band-like objects which Martha Bell has designated as the alleged mummy bands (her proposed bands are highlighted in gold.) These alleged mummy bands are laying on top of the gold foil sheets found covering portions of the mummy, and which almost certainly dropped off the inner lid of the coffin (BIFAO 12 [1916], 149 and n. 1; TTAA, 63; DRN, 46, no. 20.) The bands in the photo cannot therefore be shroud-retainers, since any bands used for the purpose of holding the mummy's wrappings or shroud in place would be  beneath the gold foil sheets. Weigall may have been misled into thinking these objects were mummy bands because he assumed that the gold foil sheets were part of the mummy's wrappings. (GP, 137.
    The gold bands, whatever their purpose may have been, were supposedly stolen from the Cairo Museum (Aldred, JEA 47 [1961], 57, 58 and n. 5.) (For more data on the mummy bands, see our "Special Exhibit," KV 55's Lost Objects: Where Are They Today? on the menu bar on the left of the main page.)

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