SYDNEY (dpa) - Parts of an Egyptian scroll dating from 1420 BC missing for 120 years have been found in the basement of Australia's Queensland Museum, a report said Saturday.
The discovery was made by the British Museum's curator of ancient Egyptian artefacts, who was visiting the museum in Brisbane to open a special exhibit on Egyptian mummies, The Australian newspaper said.
John Taylor was examining a fragment of papyrus held by the museum when he recognised hieroglyphs for the name Amenhotep, high priest and chief builder at the height of the Egyptian Empire.
Amenhotep built the Great Temple of Amun at Karnak near Luxor, 3,400 years ago.
Taylor asked if the museum had any more fragments of the scroll, and was thrilled when he was taken to the basement and shown dozens of fragments that had been carefully preserved by the museum for the past 99 years. Taylor said the sections are part of a much larger scroll known as Amenhotep's Book of the Dead. It contains magical spells and is the type of scroll that was entombed with mummified Egyptians to ensure safe passage to the afterlife.
The wealthier the person, the longer the scroll. Amenhotep's scroll is believed to have been more than 20-metre long.
Taylor said the museum will photograph the fragments and then he will try and piece them together with other parts of the scroll held in museums in London, Boston and New York.
Amenhotep's scroll was found in the 1890s, but it was broken up and bits sold or given to museums around the world.
An unnamed woman donated the fragments to the Queensland Museum in 1913. Museum director Ian Galloway said they were trying to locate descendants of the donor to see if they know how she came to have the scroll.
Taylor told the newspaper it was a "once in a lifetime discovery".
"If we can reconstruct the whole document then that's going to tell us a whole lot about how these religious texts were put together and how they selected different component spells," he said.