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Author Topic: Bolton Museum Offers Prize In Mystery Bone Competition/ Contest  (Read 468 times)
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« on: April 27, 2007, 05:31:05 AM »

Experts bone up on ancient riddle

Don Frame - 25 April 2007

   A RIDDLE of ancient Egyptian bones has been solved by two experts at Bolton Museum.

   But they intend to keep people guessing - for the moment.

   Two unique linen-wrapped bundles containing remains which could be up to 2m years old were unearthed in the early 1920s by celebrated archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie, who excavated many of the most important sites in Egypt.

   The bulk of his finds went to University College in London, but for a long time it seemed the bundles had disappeared off the scientific map - until they turned up in Bolton.

   Intrigued by the discovery, Tom Hardwick, keeper of Egyptology at the museum, and archaeology expert David Craven turned detective to reopen an investigation, hoping to find exactly what they had.

   They are now awaiting absolute confirmation of their theory from other experts worldwide.

   Meanwhile, they are inviting members of the public to let their imagination run wild and let them know what they think the bones could be.

   The bundles were originally discovered at the site of Qau el-Kebir in Middle Egypt, months after several tons of fossilised bones and worked ivory objects were found deposited in the shafts of tombs at the same site.

   Most of the finds remained packaged in storage until the late 1970s, when experts decided to take stock of what they had and carry out professional studies.

   Mr Hardwick said: "There was a large quantity of Egyptian textiles with no provenance.

   "They were offered to a number of museums, including Bolton's, which has the best Egyptian textile collection in the world." Angela Thomas, then keeper of Egyptology at the museum, took charge of the collection.

   Mr Hardwick said: "They were only briefly studied at the time. But David Craven and I were intrigued by them and decided to try to solve the riddle once for all. We have worked on and off for around six months, investigating largely by hand and eye study, and we are convinced we now know what they are.

   "Similar bones have been found at other sites in Egypt, but these appear to be unique in that they were wrapped in linen. All we will say at this stage is that they are not human."

   Bolton Museum is offering a prize for the right answer to its bone competition - or the suggestion that comes closest.

   To enter, send your answer with your name, address, age and phone number to: Mystery Bone Competition, Bolton Museum, Aquarium and Archive, Le Mans Crescent, Bolton BL1 1SE, or email your answer to


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