The 2,500-year-old coffin had been ignored, as it was thought to be empty, but experts were surprised when they finally opened it.

For 150 years, an Australian university thought the coffin in its display case was empty.

The coffin, about 2,500 years old, had been bequeathed to the university by Sir Charles Nicholson, who had brought it from Egypt in the 1850s.

It was among hundreds of items he left to the University of Sydney.

But the university’s records said it was empty or, at best, full of debris.

So for many decades it sat in the Nicholson Museum’s education room, overshadowed by more famous coffins, never holding pride of place.

But a group of experts recently removed the coffin’s lid and changed all of that.

Inside were the remains of a mummy, a noblewoman identified by the ghosted hieroglyphs on the coffin lid as Mer-Neith-it-es.

Academics believe she was a high priestess in 600BC, and that she worked in the Temple of Sekhmet, the lion-headed goddess.

Dr Jamie Fraser, senior curator at the Nicholson Museum, wrote in university periodical Muse that the discovery was “extraordinary”.

He added: “Peering into the casket, we were astonished by what we saw: far from residual scraps, the coffin was filled with a miscellany of bones, bandages, beads and other materials.”

Dr Fraser said that coffins were usually bought in the 19th and early 20th centuries with complete mummies but the mummy was not always the coffin’s original occupant.

A CT scan was arranged to get a better picture of the coffin’s contents before they were excavated.

He said: “While the remains inside the Mer-Neith-it-es coffin were indeed mixed, the scanner detected two mummified ankles, feet and toes, consistent with a single person; the fused ends of some of the bones suggest the person was at least 30 years old.”

The mummy’s bones will help scientists answer questions about diet, diseases and the lifestyle of people during that time.

The university is in the process of building a new museum with a room for mummies and Egyptology.

It’s safe to say this mummy won’t be hidden away anymore.

Source : sky news