Mamma Mia! Remains of Egyptian ‘mummy’ found in Lublin school

The bone is thought to have been brought to the school in the 19th century. UM Lublin

A mysterious bone thought to be a fragment of an Egyptian mummy has been found at a school in Lublin. 

The discovery was made during renovations at the A. & J. Vetter Economic Schools in the city.

The sides of the rectangular casket containing the bone are decorated with drawings of people and oxen.UM Lublin 

The object was found during renovations in the attic, which features a pitched roof and red-brick pillars. 

It had been bricked up inside one of the pillars, along with other school memorabilia.

The bone was found during renovations in the school’s attic. UM Lublin

The rectangular casket contains what looks like a bone, which has turned brown with age. The sides of the box are decorated with drawings of people and oxen.

According to Grzegorz Jędrek from the Lublin Mayor’s press office, “it is probably a mummified tibia bone in a glazed wooden box with ornaments reminiscent of Egyptian decorations”.

Founded in 1866, the school is housed in a Neo-Gothic red-brick building in the city centre that was built in 1906.UM Lublin

The school’s past provides clues into where the bone came from. A book on the school’s history published in 1958 mentions that the school’s director in the early 20th Century, Ludwik Kowalczewski, created a botanical garden by the school and a “natural history museum with peculiarities that even included an Egyptian mummy”. 

Founded in 1866, the schools are housed in a Neo-Gothic red-brick building in the city centre that was built in 1906.

It is thought that the bone was brought back from Egypt by August Karol Vetter, the 19th century brewer and social activist from Lublin who funded the construction of the school building.bc.wbp.lublin.pl

The books contains photos of the museum, though not of the object that was found during the renovations.

The museum itself was destroyed during the occupation of Lublin during World War II.

A 1958 book on the school’s history mentions that the school’s director created a botanical garden by the school and a “natural history museum with peculiarities that even included an Egyptian mummy”.Lubelski Wojewódzki Konserwator Zabytków

“Valuable scientific aids were irretrievably lost, too, and scientific laboratories and the most valuable of them, the nature history room, were completely destroyed,” the book adds.

Jędrek has suggested that the object itself was brought back from Egypt by August Karol Vetter, the 19th century brewer and social activist from Lublin who funded the construction of the school building.

The mummy bone had been bricked up inside one of the pillars, along with other school memorabilia.Lubelski Wojewódzki Konserwator Zabytków

After the discovery was made, the school informed the conservator of monuments for the Lublin region, who is overseeing the renovation process, as well as the Lublin Museum.

Further research will be needed to shed more light on the object, including how old it is. 

This includes radiocarbon dating, a method used by archaeologists to determine the age of an object containing organic material, such as a bone.