Ancient Egyptian mummy shroud discovered in museum's storage

Museum discovery
Museum discovery 01:33

Ancient history was discovered in an old crumpled-up and torn paper bag at the National Museum of Scotland. A 2,000-year-old burial cloth had been hidden away in the museum archives during World War II and only recently discovered.

It looked like garbage just waiting to be tossed out. But after more than 70 years sitting on a shelf in storage, a team of curious curators finally peeked inside, reports CBS News’ Jonathan Vigliotti. 

“It was really exciting to be able to get it out,” said Dr. Margaret Maitland, who made the discovery.

“A lot of people don’t realize you can make discoveries in museum collections as well,” she added.

What they found was a well-preserved mummy shroud, a type of linen cloth used to wrap the mummified bodies of high-ranking Egyptians.

A 2,000-year-old mummy shroud was found at the National Museum of Scotland CBS News

The shroud was so fragile, it took 24 hours of humidifying just to unwrap.

“Each fold that we unfolded revealing another part of the shroud was just so exciting, to see his face emerge,” Maitland said. She said the final result was so well-preserved, they could even read the name of the deceased as Aaemka.

As it turns out, the museum already had relics of his parents: his father, a high ranking Egyptian official named Montseuf, and his mother, Tanuat.

Mother and father were put on display, while their son for some reason was overlooked and went into storage. But now, decades later, this ancient family tree is pieced back together.

“They hoped these options would sort of allow them to live forever and at least they can live on through these incredible objects,” Maitland said.

The shroud officially goes on display today. The museum still has over 11 million pieces from all over the world in storage. Maitland says who knows what other treasures are waiting to be discovered.