Thursday, January 24, 2008
Follow-Up: The "Persian Princess Mummy"
I posted a long story about the so-called "Persian Princess Mummy." Tonight I saw a follow-up: Fake 'mummy' still awaits burial By Abbas Naqvi BBC Urdu service, Karachi January 24, 2008 The dead in Pakistan are usually buried within hours - but the mummified body of a woman that sparked a diplomatic row has lain unburied for seven years. Pakistani police discovered the mummy in 2000, during a murder investigation. Script on the sarcophagus dated it to 6th century BC Persia. Both Iran and Pakistan claimed the mummy as their own - until tests showed it to be a fake. A charity that agreed to perform the last rites on the body says red-tape is delaying the burial. The body is now being kept in the mortuary of the Edhi Trust, which is waiting for the police departments of Balochistan and Sindh to authorise the burial. "Keeping a body in the mortuary for three days costs us 500 rupees ($8.3; £4.2) and this body has been lying here for seven years," Anwar Kazmi, a trust spokesman says. Murder investigation The woman was apparently mummified by antiques smugglers and touted as an archaeological find. The discovery generated immense international interest at the time, attracting journalists and collectors from around the world. It also led to a diplomatic row between Iran and Pakistan, with both claiming its ownership. But subsequent examination by experts found that the body was not more than a few years old. "It was of a middle-aged woman who probably died in 1996 or 97 because of a broken back," says Dr Asma Ibrahim, an archaeologist who was then curator of the Karachi Museum and a member of the team that examined the mummy. "There were flaws in the ancient script, and a physical examination showed that the process of mummification was also not the same as that followed in ancient Iran," she says. Edhi Trust has since written to Karachi Museum for permission to bury the body, but has been told that a clearance must come from the police because the body is property of a criminal case, says Mr Kazmi. But, he says, the police seem to have lost all interest in the case. "We have been writing to the authorities in Sindh and Balochistan, but there has been no reply," he says.