Education

Take Note

May 29, 2002 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Mummy in the Closet

When students at Naperville Central High School want a glimpse of a real Egyptian mummy, they don’t need to visit a museum. All they have to do is visit the school’s social studies department, where a delicately wrapped mummy of a little girl has been on display for more than a decade.

The 2,700-student school, an hour southwest of Chicago, is believed to be the only high school in the United States to own an authentic mummy.

Dr. Winifred Martin, a physician who purchased the mummy on a trip to Egypt, donated it to the school in the early 1940s.

“Back then, it wasn’t illegal to buy such things,” said James Galanis, who teaches ancient medieval history at the school and helps care for the mummy.

According to Mr. Galanis, the mummy was displayed for many years in the school’s library before being tucked away in storage. When a social studies teacher rediscovered it in the late 1970s, the mummy was in very bad shape. And it stayed that way until 1992 when the school asked experts at the University of Chicago to restore it.

“She was deteriorating pretty badly,” said Mr. Galanis, who noted that the mummy’s bandages were extremely loose, leaving parts of the skull exposed, and that much of the paper wrapped around her was literally falling apart.

The university has been periodically checking the condition of the mummy and has helped the school set up a humidity-controlled case to preserve her.

Experts from the National Geographic Society recently helped school officials unravel the mystery of the mummy’s age and gender. “The most recent tests on [the mummy] indicate that it’s a child between the ages of 7 and 9,” Mr. Galanis said.

Using radiocarbon dating—which analyzes the decay of carbon in an object—experts determined that the child lived sometime between 55 B.C. and 30 B.C., when a Greek dynasty, around the time of Cleopatra, ruled Egypt.

DNA tests also revealed that the mummy was a girl.

—Marianne D. Hurst

A version of this article appeared in the May 29, 2002 edition of Education Week

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Reading & Literacy K-12 Essentials Forum Writing and the Science of Reading
Join us for this free event as we highlight and discuss the intersection of reading and writing with Education Week reporters and expert guests.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: February 1, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 18, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Letter to the Editor EdWeek's Most-Read Letters of 2022
Here are this year’s top five Letters to the Editor.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Education In Their Own Words Withstanding Trauma, Leading With Honesty, and More: The Education Stories That Stuck With Us
Our journalists highlight why stories on the impact of trauma on schooling and the fallout of the political discourse on race matter to the field.
4 min read
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP