The campus is home to ancient Egyptian mummy, Nes-Per-N-Nub, in ‘Egypt Calls You’ exhibit


Rowena Luis, an Africana studies junior, looks at a mummy at the Egypt Calls You! exhibit in Humanities 510 Wednesday, April 30. Photo by Rachel Aston / Xpress

A rare ancient Egyptian mummy is on display at the Becker Corona Gallery in the Humanities Building, as part of the “Egypt Calls You” exhibit, that opened April 16 and will run until May 15.

The mummy, Nes-Per-N-Nub, is one of only three nesting sarcophagus mummies in the country, according to the gallery’s website. He is the only intact mummy in the Bay Area, as previously reported by Xpress. Nes-Per-N-Nub was wrapped in linen and buried in three intricately carved and decorated sarcophagi, each one over the other like Russian nesting dolls. In life, he was a high priest of the god Amun

The mummy, which dates from between 945 and 783 BCE, is the exhibit’s centerpiece, but the museum is featuring several other ancient Egyptian and ancient Greek artifacts.

“(Egypt) had the first navy, the first medicine, the first everything,” said Africana Studies major Richard Polote. “They don’t tell you that. You always hear a Eurocentric view.”

The exhibit was curated by Professor Linda Ellis, with help from four museum studies students. The exhibit is made up of artifacts that were already a permanent part of San Francisco State’s collection, but are rarely open for public viewing. Most of the Egyptian artifacts were purchased by wealthy San Franciscan Adolph Sutro during his around-the-world tour in 1883.

“Basically, he was purchased off the streets,” said Ellis of Nes-Per-N-Nub. “There were no laws then. Plunderers would just set up shop.” According to Ellis, the Victorians would even have parties where they unwrapped mummies for morbid curiosity, or to find the jewels that were often wrapped up with them.

Rowena Luis, an Africana studies junior, looks at a mummy at the Egypt Calls You! exhibit in Humanities 510 Wednesday, April 30. Photo by Rachel Aston / Xpress


Nes-Per-N-Nub was acquired by SF State in 1972, after having had a long post-mortem career at a museum on the site that is now the Sutro Baths and a short stint at UC Berkeley. All records of how Sutro acquired the items in his collection were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, according to the website.

The exhibit also includes Egyptian funerary items, ancient Greek pottery, a replica of the Rosetta Stone and an electric model railroad made to look like the one in Cairo in the 1950s, complete with a model of the Nile River and the surrounding desert.

The model train is part of the gallery’s effort to reach out to families with children who have Aspergers Syndrome or autism spectrum disorders (ASD). According to Ellis, many children with Aspergers or ASD are fascinated by trains, a phenomenon that has been noticed by transportation museums around the country.

“People have asked if we’ve gotten cursed,” said first year museum studies student Allyson Ferrari, as she showed Nes-Per-N-Nub to a group of schoolchildren. “I personally haven’t seen any ghosts around here.”