The Two Brothers

Coinciding with the opening of the Tutankhamun & Golden Age of Pharaohs exhibition in Greenwich, a new book was launched last week, which unravels the mystery of a pair of, lesser well-known, 4,000-year-old ancient Egyptian mummies in Manchester Museum collection, known as the “Two Brothers”.

In 1907 a team led by the Egyptologist Flinders Petrie discovered a small tomb hidden in the cliffs above the Egyptian village of  Der Rifeh. The undecorated rock-cut chamber contained the undisturbed burials of two men. Although modest in size, the tomb was remarkable both for the quality of its funeral equipment and for the enduring mystery of its occupants, Khnum-Nakht and Nakht-Ankh, who soon became known as the “Two Brothers”. In this study of one of the most important undisturbed tombs from ancient Egypt, the author discusses the burial equipment and the mummified bodies of the two men, exploring what they can tell us about the lives and expectations of two ordinary yet remarkable individuals from Egypt’s Middle Kingdom.

In the following year, the mummies were unwrapped, in a large lecture theatre, at The University of Manchester and studied in one of the first scientific analyses of such bodies from ancient Egypt. The remains of the “Two Brothers” have been re-examined in more recent times, employing modern analytical techniques pioneered by the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology at The University of Manchester, and more of the secrets hidden within their ancient bodies have been revealed.

Rosalie David, the author of the book which describes these discoveries – The Two Brothers: Death and the Afterlife in Middle Kingdom Egypt — holds the KNH Professorship of Biomedical Egyptology in the University of Manchester. She was formerly Keeper of Egyptology at The Manchester Museum. David was also the first woman professor in Egyptology  in Britain, and the first to receive an OBE in recognition of her services in Egyptology.

I have seen the “Two Brothers”, and the contents of their tomb, which are on permanent display in the ancient Egypt gallery at The Manchester Museum.


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