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Neskhons, Knoxville, Tennessee

November 12, 2018


My first encounter with the mummy Neskhons, also known as Djed-Khons-Iwef-Ankh, was in the 1990s on a field trip to the McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. I was in either first or fourth grade; the details are hazy, but I do remember my mom chaperoned the trip and I remember her and the other adults whispering about a certain detail of this mummy that she wasn’t keen to share (it had something to do with the Osiris/penis/catfish cosmology, but I’m still not sure of the details, and she doesn’t remember now).






Throughout the years I lived in Knoxville, one of my close friends and I would often visit the museum; it was free, we were huge history nerds, and it was close. There were plenty of artifacts we loved and always visited: a terracotta soldier replica, a Chinese camel, and the remains of a dog from the Native American period of this area immediately spring to mind. However, we always came back to the mummy and the Egyptian section the most. Looking back at our photos, that was always where we were drawn. We visited so often that we eventually affectionately renamed the mummy Gilbert, and we still talk about him today. I actually texted her yesterday with an anecdote related to this mummy.


When I first found Mummy Stories I began to think about mummies that had an impact on my life it quickly became apparent that Neskhons left an impression. He is the first mummy I remember seeing in person, and at that point in my young life I was just beginning to explore history and the past. Since I eventually went on to study Ancient History, and Egyptology in particular, at the University of Memphis in Tennessee, the impact was obviously long-lasting. My later studies and work with museums further cemented the impact this early museum visit and encounter with Neskhons had on my life then and now.


As I thought about Neskhons and wanted to find out more, I looked through old photographs and searched the McClung Museum website for any information about the mummy. There was nothing on the McClung website; where did he go? Luckily, I found mummies.com which had a whole entry on Neskhons with lots of information about where he was, and what he had been up to this last decade.


Neskhons was loaned to the McClung from the Western Reserve Historical Society in Ohio. They called back the loan in 2006, soon after my last visit with him, and then sold him in December 2006 at a Christie's Auction. Christie’s had a ton of information about the sarcophagus, provenance, and Neskhons himself, including a translation of the associated texts. Neskhons,