Undoubtedly the star of Maidstone Museum’s Egyptian collection is the only adult human mummy in Kent, ‘The Lady of the House, Ta-Kush, Daughter of Osiris, Pa-Muta; her mother Lady of the House, Shay’.
Her 2,700 year old mummy was brought to England in the 1820s. This originally had an inner and outer coffin, but only the inner wooden coffin reached the museum in the 19th century. In 1843, she was unwrapped and studied by Samuel Birch of the British Museum, and a local doctor, Hugh Welch Diamond. She was then presented by Dr Diamond to his cousin, Mr Charles, whose collections formed the Charles Museum in Maidstone. The Charles Museum later became Maidstone Museum after Charles’ death.
In July 2016, the Museum received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for an exciting project to redisplay ancient Egyptian and Greek artefacts in a new ‘Ancient Lives’ Gallery, which opened in October 2017. As part of the redisplay, the Museum worked with the Kent Institute of Medicine and Science (KIMS) and FaceLab at Liverpool John Moores University to conduct a CT scan and facial reconstruction of Ta-Kush, helping determine how she looked during her lifetime.
In November 2016, Ta-Kush made the short journey across Maidstone to KIMS to undergo a full body scan. This revealed a number of fascinating finds about the mummy, as well as other mummified remains in the museum’s collections, which were also scanned.