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Mummies of the Vatican: Genuine or Fake

Getty Villa, Malibu. Two small mummies in the Egyptian collection of the Vatican Museums have intrigued scholars for decades. Often referred to as “pseudo-mummies” or “miniature mummies,” these cylindrical bundles—wrapped in linen bandages, painted with human portraits and covered in a uniform brownish substance—were believed to be ancient and to contain the remains of either small children or animals. Alessia Amenta, curator of the Egyptian department and director of the Vatican Mummy Project, shares recent scientific analysis conducted by the museum’s diagnostic laboratory for conservation, revealing a new interpretation of these curious objects, and discusses the ongoing process to catalogue, study, and restore the Vatican’s entire collection of human and animal mummies.