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Pakistan and Iran Fight over Mummified Persian Princess  


News Category: Achaemenian Dynasty

 Sunday November 26, 2000


By: Luke Harding

Her name is Ruduamna, she is around 2,600 years old, and she is soon to be the star exhibit in Pakistan's crumbling, little-visited national museum. But the mummified corpse of the 20-year-old Persian princess is now the subject of a row between Iran and Pakistan as to which country is her true owner.  

The Iranians claim Ruduamna is a member of Iran's ancient royal family and should be returned as soon as possible. They also insist she is not a princess but a prince.


Pakistani experts say the mummy's origins are not clear and are carrying out tests to try to resolve the mystery. An initial scan has revealed that the mummy has no teeth and suffered 'severe trauma' to her spine, which probably killed her. Pakistani detectives recovered the ancient mummy in October when they raided a house in Quetta and arrested a local tribal chieftain, Sardar Wali Reeki. They had earlier received a tip-off that he owned several valuable antiques. Reeki confessed he had tried to sell the mummy on the international black market for $50 million, but had only been offered $1.1 million. He said the mummy had been found 'some years ago' in Kharan, in Pakistan's Balochistan province, after an earthquake.  

The princess, swathed in decaying muslin, was lying in an ornate wooden sarcophagus. Her hands were crossed over a gold plate on her chest, decorated with royal symbols, and she had a gold crown on her head. The coffin had inscriptions in Makhi cuneiform, a language prevalent in Persia in 600BC. The inscriptions read: 'I am the daughter of Xerxes, the great King. I am Ruduamna.'  

Iran said the mummy had been stolen from Iran and asked for Interpol's help in getting it back. But Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar said Pakistani officials were investigating the mummy's provenance.  

Meanwhile, Pakistani officials have approached British experts from Manchester Museum's Egyptology department for advice on how best to display the mummy. 



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