Page last updated at 08:42 GMT, Monday, 29 June 2009 09:42 UK

The mummy returns

Takabuti - Pic courtesy Ulster museum
Takabuti died about 660BC and came to Belfast in 1834

She's back.

The Egyptian mummy - a source of fascination for children since she came to Belfast in 1834 - had been in storage as the Ulster Museum went through a major refurbishment over a period of nearly three years.

But she has returned to her home at the corner of Belfast's Botanic Park and will be ready to receive visitors when the new-look museum opens in October.

The mummy has always been a major draw for the museum.

But curators dismissed as "urban myth" a popular story that the mummy once contracted a bad case of nits from the children of Belfast and ended up under glass to protect herself.

"She dates from 660 BC and was the daughter of a priest living in Thebes in the Valley of the Kings," said Dr Jim McGreevy, head curator at National Museums Northern Ireland.

"She was a lady of some standing. Her grave goods indicate that she was important and her family was important at that time in ancient Egypt," he said.

"She has been a source of wonder and awe in Belfast too."

He said there were no curses attached to this particular mummy and the museum staff had "nothing but respect" for her.

In the new-look museum, visitors will be able to see a facial reconstruction of Takabuti to get an idea of what she really looked like.

Given the Hollywood fascination with mummies and museums - The Mummy and A Night at the Museum were big hits - the museum is expecting thousands of visitors when it reopens in October.

"We have been extremely busy over the past few months and we are looking forward to the reopening," said Dr McGreevy.

"We are on the last legs of the work and are anticipating considerably bigger numbers."

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