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Macquarie egyptologist shortlisted for higher education's 'Oscars'

Page last published: 15 Sep 2015

Dr Jana Jones examines funerary textiles. Credit: Chris Stacey.Dr Jana Jones' research project, which has rewritten the history of Egyptian mummification, has been shortlisted in the International Collaboration of the Year category in the 2015 Times Higher Education (THE) awards.

Dr Jones, a Research Fellow at Macquarie University's Department of Ancient History, worked with Dr Stephen Buckley of the Department of Archaeology and BioArCh, the Departments of Archaeology, Biology and Chemistry at the University of York, and discovered new evidence suggesting that the origins of mummification started in ancient Egypt 1500 years earlier than previously thought.

Prior to Dr Jana Jones' research, no evidence had been found indicating mummification techniques were in use during the Prehistoric period, about 4300 BC. Dr Jones, with Mr Ron Oldfield from Macquarie's Department of Biological Sciences, used a suite of microscopical techniques to analyse linen bandages and search for the presence of embalming agents. Biochemical analysis by Dr Buckley showed that these embalming agents were in fact complex 'recipes' comprised of rare, imported ingredients.

The scientific findings published by Dr Jones, Dr Stephen Buckley, and York's BioArCh facility push back the origins of a central and vital facet of ancient Egyptian culture by over a millennium.

The pioneering research has fed into Dr Jones' current project exploring the origins and development of mummification.

Said Dr Jones on the shortlisting: "I have been overwhelmed by this announcement. To receive international acknowledgement for interdisciplinary research between the humanities and the sciences in such an iconic symbol of higher education as THE, is a gratifying achievement. Even to be shortlisted is in itself significant."

Professor Sakkie Pretorius, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), said: "Dr Jones' work has fundamentally changed our understanding of Ancient Egyptian burial practices. This is another example of a Macquarie University researcher engaging as a world-recognised research collaborator to deliver world-changing impact."

The THE Awards are widely recognised as the 'Oscars' of the higher education sector, each year attracting hundreds of entries.

The winners will be revealed at an awards evening in London on Thursday 26 November 2015.

The original research paper can be accessed here: Evidence for Prehistoric Origins of Egyptian Mummification in Late Neolithic Burials

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