IV - The Return Home

In light of all the evidence supporting the identification of this mummy as that of Pharaoh Ramesses I, Egyptian authorities accepted the Carlos Museum's offer to return the body to Egypt in 2003. After a temporary exhibition which drew tens of thousands of visitors, the mummy was returned to Egypt to be housed in the Luxor Museum as a goodwill gesture from the people of Atlanta to the people of Egypt.

The mummy of Ramesses was returned with all due ceremony, presided over by American and Egyptian officials, including Dr. Zahi Hawass, Director General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States Ambassador to Egypt, David Welch.

The body of the famous general and pharaoh will become part of an exhibition on the Egyptian army in the Luxor Museum.

Once the exhibit closed the body was prepared for the return trip via air cargo. Conservator Ron Harvey was brought in to assist with the packing. Ron also helped pack all of the objects from the Niagra Falls Museum, so he was delighted to be part of this concluding phase. The mummy was placed in a packing system designed to resist impact and cushion against vibration. The mummy was rested on a rigid support board with padding to cradle his head, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, etc. This rigid support board was prepared with stable inert materials and could be used for long-term display to avoid having to lift the body again. The mummy (on the board) was essentially encased in sheets of foam that were custom-cut to fit the contours of the body. The foam provided support and absorbed vibration so that the fragile body could withstand the force of take-off and landing. The mummy-foam package was then surrounded by an archival cardboard box that offered some structure to the layered packaging. This box was placed inside a wooden crate lined with 4 inches of foam, again to cushion against vibration. This crate was also lined with a barrier film and gasketed so that the crate was sealed and could maintain stable levels of temperature and relative humidity. This crate was "suspended" inside a yet larger wood crate. High density foam blocks held the inner crate in position. The outer crate and its foam blocks were intended to absorb shock from impact and offer additional protection to the crated mummy. The entire nested crate system was placed in a cargo container that fit into the 777 jet.