The mummy of an ancient Priest Nesim, which arrived at the end of the nineteenth century in Serbia, was exposed to the public at the Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy
There are Belgrade citizens who claim that they have already heard that somewhere in some Serbian treasury, there is the body of the mummy arrived from Egypt since long ago. For most, this story is still a great surprise, and it is difficult to distinguish which discovery is more interesting – that there is a Belgrade mummy, or how it arrived here. According to credible information, the Egyptian mummy arrived from the famous Luxor by mail to the Serbian capital in 1888. The sender from the “land of the Misir” was Mr. Hadži Pavle Riđički. There is information about Mr. Riđičko, adventurer from Mokrin, as well as the mummy he bought for his fellow countrymen, and it can be said from it that this great benefactor and his unusual gift were unjustly forgotten. Recently, in the framework of the archaeological collection at the premises of the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, a sarcophagus in which the body of a mummy 2,300 years old is kept has been exhibited.
During his stay in Egypt, Riđički bought a mummy of priest in the sarcophagus at the bazaar, which was usual at that time, and sent it for Serbia. It was originally exposed in the Mansion of Miša Anastasijević, where it remained until Austro-Hungarian bombing. It was also included in the permanent exhibition of the Prince Pavle Museum, and after the Second World War, it was moved to the building of the Fund Administration, today’s National Museum. Then the mummified body of the old Egyptian moved to Montenegro, as a loan to the Art Gallery of Non-Aligned Countries in Podgorica. It was kept in the depot there, because it did not fit into the soc-realistic spirit of the gallery’s setting. At the request of the Department of Archaeology at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, an initiative was initiated to transfer the mummy to the faculty for educational and academic purposes, and in 1992, the sarcophagus was transferred to the Archaeological Collection of the Faculty of Philosophy, where it is still today.
When DNA tests and scanning with X-ray were performed, it was confirmed that it was a body of a man 165 centimetres high, who lived in the Ptolomean period, that is, in the 4th century AD. He lived for about 50 years. The heart is preserved from the internal organs, and the brain is extracted, as it was done before – through the nostrils. The name of a man who lays mummified at the Faculty of Philosophy in a tamarisk tree casket was Nesmin. The names of his mother, Chai-Hator-Imu, are also known, as well as that she played a sistrum, a cymbal-like instrument, in Charm, then the name of his father, Unefer, and his grandfather, whose name was Jed-Chor. Nesmin served as a high priest in the temple of god Min, the Egyptian deity of fertility, during his life, like all the men in his family. Hence, Nesmin’s name, which has the meaning “one belonging to Min.” The gemstones are found in the sarcophagus, as well as golden jewellery and amulet, which represent the goddess Maat, the Egyptian deity the embodiment of justice, truth and cosmic order, then Ib heart and the Egyptian Udjat eye, a symbol of protection and royal power.
Nesmin is lying on his back, with arms crossed on his shoulders, and gold can still be seen on his nails. The sarcophagus is painted, and under the collar there is a figure of the goddess of the sky Nut with wings spread. Egyptologists claim that this mummy is unique in the world, because alongside it, near the heart, a papyrus scroll was found. It is an ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Mr. Riđički, the founder of Egyptology among Serbs
The character of the adventurer who sails from North Pole to Africa in the nineteenth century, survives the shipwreck, lands in Cairo and wanders the oriental bazaars, hardly fits into the profile of anyone from the South Slavic area. Let us remember that at that time, the South Slavs were fighting for independence, and those who, like the Serbs, obtained it little before that, barely moved from the south to the north of the newly established kingdom-and especially not at the age of 82 which was Mr. Riđički’s age when he arrived in Cairo!
He welcomed Epiphany of 1888 on the ship’s roof, staring at the constellation above North Africa. When he arrived in Cairo, he rented a carriage that had driven him to the Pyramid in Giza. A look at the monumental Pharaonic tombs could not satisfy Pavle’s curiosity. He climbed the Keops pyramid, about which he then wrote: “This pyramid, in the middle, in a span of five or six hvats from the ground, has an entry into the interior. It was enough hard to crawl up to this ascent with the help of Bedouins. Inside, one must descend down the stairs, then you go horizontally with one hand resisting the neck of the front Bedouin, and with the other holding behind the other Bedouin. When you come to areas where one cannot go upright, I had to sit on the sand, and the front Beduin dragged me by the legs, and the rear pushed forward. ”
Pavle sent letters from the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and from trips to Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Cyprus and Greece, Italy. His books of travels, apart from, of course, rare researchers, remained unknown.