The mummy of the Egyptian priest Nes-Shou, dating from the 2nd century BC, has been removed from the medieval tower of the Yverdon Museum. An ethical choice which also ensures better conservation.
Unearthed in the 19th century north of Thebes, the mummy had been resting in the Yverdon and region Museum since 1978. Donated by the Viceroy of Egypt to an Australian-Swiss archaeologist, Edwin Simond Bey, who in turn offered it in the city of Yverdon, it has just been removed from its tower. Nes-Shou remains however accessible to specialists, in particular to those in charge of its conservation.
A reflection on our colonial past
A decision taken for two reasons: first, an evolution of sensitivities in the world of museums. Today, human remains are not as easily shown as they were twenty years ago. There is also the question of respect for cultures from elsewhere, in space or in time. From now on, many museums are keen to no longer be simple cabinets of curiosities, and to respect the objects they exhibit: their cultures, their beliefs and their places of origin.
Some also opt for the return of certain pieces, like the City of Geneva, which in 1992 repatriated a Maori head to New Zealand, at the request of the Maori people.
The case of Egyptian mummies is particular: “The mummies in themselves are not claimed by present-day Egypt, which does not see its direct ancestors there. We are faced with open tombs and sets sometimes purchased legally. the case here “, explains the director Vincent Fontana to the daily” 24 heures “which delivered the information. In most cases, the corpse is simply no longer shown. When possible, it is placed back in its sarcophagus and the ornaments and bands are put back in place. Thus, the eternal home of the deceased, as desired by their contemporaries, is restored.
Better storage conditions
The second reason for this decision is none other than the current state of the mummy. Manhandled during its trip, then on its arrival in Yverdon, it requires a complete examination. The medieval tower, sometimes subject to temperature variations harmful to the mummy, must be restored during work. The development of a high-quality showcase is on the agenda for 2026.
Radio subject: Fabien Hünenberger
Adaptation web: ms