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Burial For Fake Persian Mummy in Pakistan



05 August 2005


A "mummy" that duped archaeologists and nearly sparked a diplomatic row between Pakistan and Iran is finally being laid to rest.

Discovered in a wooden sarcophagus in October 2000, the mummy was thought to be Persian and date to about 600BCE.

Iran laid claim to the sarcophagus and Pakistani provinces squabbled over it until tests showed the "mummy" was a fake only a few decades old.

A charity has now agreed to perform the last rites and bury the body.

"No one is interested in it anymore," Rizwan Edhi, a spokesman for the Edhi Foundation told the BBC news website.

Mr Edhi said the charity had taken the decision to bury the fake mummy because it could no longer afford to keep it.

"It has cost us hundreds of thousands of rupees over the past three years just to keep it in our mortuary," Mr Edhi said.

He said the burial would take place after the local elections scheduled for this month and next.


While the mummy was not as old as thought, it has managed to rustle up an interesting history in the five years since it was discovered.

Karachi police stumbled upon a video of the mummy in the course of a murder investigation into a man called Ali Akbar.

On being quizzed about the video, Ali Akbar told police the mummy was with a Baloch tribesman in Quetta - the capital of Pakistan's south-western Balochistan province, neighbouring Afghanistan.

Police raided the house of the tribesman, recovered the mummy and brought it to Karachi.

They then contacted Pakistan's most experienced archaeologist, Professor Ahmed Hasan Dani.

Prof Dani said the cuneiform script on the gold plate indicated the mummy's Persian roots. It may have been the daughter of ancient Persian King Xerxes, he said.

The Iranian Cultural Heritage Organisation immediately laid claim to the artefact - declaring it a part of Iran's royal heritage.

It threatened to mobilise Interpol to recover the mummy.

The Taleban regime in Afghanistan also said it was interested in finding out if the mummy had been found in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Balochistan government accused Sindh province of stealing its archaeological treasures and demanded the mummy be returned to Quetta.

It was left to Archaeology magazine to suggest it was a fake that had been for sale on the black market for several months.

Its "owners", the magazine said, had been offered $1.1m by a Western collector. But the sale fell through because the asking price was closer to $11m.

Source: BBC

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