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Egypt says mummy can stay at UCC -- if it's too fragile for travel

EGYPTIAN authorities are prepared to allow a 2,300-year-old mummy (pictured right) to remain in Ireland if it is too fragile to be transported back home.

However, they are adamant that the mummy -- hidden for years under floorboards in University College Cork (UCC) -- is the property of the Egyptian state and should be returned if it is suitable for shipment.

The mummy could become one of the centrepieces of a multi-million euro new museum to be opened within sight of the Giza pyramids and the Sphinx.

Egyptian officials are set to offer UCC the prospect of the mummy being loaned back at a future date and the inclusion of UCC on world tours of famous Egyptian artefacts.

However, prospects for a deal over the mysterious mummy have been thrown into turmoil after the recent revolution in Egypt, the retirement of one of Cairo's top Egyptologists and ongoing confusion over precisely how the mummy arrived at UCC.

The mummy was discovered at the college in 1903 and experts now believe the mummy and the sarcophagus in which it is kept, are from different eras.

The mummy is that of an adult male who lived around 300BC, but the coffin dates to between 600BC and 700BC.

UCC said that the items were acquired some time in the 1880s or 1890s -- most likely as part of a collection from English explorers which was offered to colleges throughout Britain.

At the time, UCC was known as Queen's College Cork (QCC) and closely mirrored the trend by English and Scottish universities for exhibitions of artefacts from classical civilisations.

The mummy has been in safe storage for 23 years but is not on public display.

UCC and the Egyptian Embassy in Dublin confirmed they are in discussions over the mummy's future.

Irish Independent