Yemen war threatens millennia-old mummies

A Yemeni student looks at a millennia-old mummy on display at Sanaa University
A Yemeni student looks at a millennia-old mummy on display at Sanaa University
Yemen's war has claimed thousands of lives and pushed millions to the brink of famine. Now the conflict threatens to erase a unique part of the country's ancient history.

(AFP) -- A collection of millennia-old mummies at Sanaa University Museum in the Yemeni capital could face destruction as a result of the fighting.

With electricity intermittent at best and the country's ports under blockade, experts are fighting to save the 12 mummies in the face of heat, humidity and a lack of preservative chemicals.

Some of the remains, from pagan kingdoms that ruled the region around 400 BC, still have teeth and strands of hair.

"These mummies are tangible evidence of a nation's history," said Abdulrahman Jarallah, head of the archaeology department at Sanaa University, but "even our mummies are affected by the war."

 

"Mummies need a suitable, controlled environment and regular care, including sanitisation every six months," he told AFP.

"Some of them have begun to decay as we cannot secure electricity and the proper preservative chemicals, and we're struggling to control the stench."

"We're concerned both for the conservation of the mummies and for the health of those handling them," Jarallah said.

 

 

The mummies are among a host of priceless ancient remains threatened by conflicts across the region.

Saudi Arabia and its allies (the Saudi-led Coalition) have launched a military operation against Yemen since 25 March 2015 titled "Decisive Storm" in order to return the saudi-backed former president ’Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi’, by force, to power after his mandate expired in January 2015.

 

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