SHE was a musician, a percussionist who lived in ancient Egypt more than 1600 years ago.

But until now, the image of Meramuniotes, for that was her name, was held in a Scottish museum, anonymous and relatively unknown.

However, new curatorial detective work has uncovered the mysteries of the Egyptian statue which has been held at Montrose Museum, in Angus, since the 1830s.

Little was known about the statue of the temple musician, who lived in around 332-30 BC, until a recent review of ancient Egyptian and East Asian collections held in local museums, undertaken by the National Museums of Scotland.

During the review, the statue was identified by curators as being an “exquisite example” of Ptolemaic (c.332–30 BC) statuary.

It will now be displayed in Discovering Ancient Egypt, a touring exhibition from National Museums Scotland which opens at Montrose Museum on 7 June.

It was donated to the newly formed museum in 1837 by Montrose-born Dr James Burnes, a relative of the poet Robert Burns, who worked as the physician general in Mumbai.

After being sent on sick leave suffering from malaria, he travelled home to Scotland, via Egypt, in 1834 and collected the statue during his visit.

The back of the statue is inscribed with a long, hieroglyphic text which has now been fully translated for the first time.

It discusses her family, her role in the temple and her wishes for the afterlife.

Her parents, siblings and descendants were all involved in the temple priesthood of ancient Thebes, and the inscription tells us that she played the sistrum – a percussion instrument - in the temple of Amun-Ra.

Her mother, Nehemesratawy, held this same role, and they may even have worked together.

Statues commemorating other members of her family can be found in museums in Cairo, Turin and London.

Dr Daniel Potter, assistant curator of the Revealing Cultures Project at National Museums Scotland said: “This statue is one of the finest of its type in the UK. “Not only it is beautifully carved but it shares an amazing connection with Montrose.

“Until recently, rather little was known about it.

“Now, by working with our colleagues at Montrose Museum to explore their collections, we have been able to reveal some of the secrets of this remarkable object.

“Through this work, we have established how unique the statue is, and to put a name to the person it depicts and learn more about her and her relatives. It is a wonderful chance to connect with a family from over 2,000 years ago.”

Caroline Taylor, Museum Officer at Montrose Museum, said: “We are delighted that we will have the chance to showcase the statue of Meramuniotes and highlight her story, as well as how the statue was brought to Montrose, in an engaging way for our visitors.”

The Discovering Ancient Egypt touring exhibition examines Scotland’s contribution to Egyptology through the lives of three people whose work in the field helped to improve our understanding of ancient Egyptian culture.

These are Alexander Henry Rhind, who lived from 1833-1863, Annie Pirie Quibell (1862-1927) and Charles Piazzi Smyth (1819-1900).

Piazzi Smyth’s legacy recently made news, when there was some controversy over an exhibit, a stone from the Great Pyramid, was announced as part of the new Egyptian exhibition.

Smyth, born in Italy in 1819, 200 years ago, was appointed the Astronomer Royal for Scotland in 1845 at the age of 26, but was also fascinated by Egypt.

In 1865 Piazzi Smyth had initiated a programme of research including the first largely accurate survey of the Great Pyramid, and in doing so, he had the official permission of the Viceroy of Egypt and the assistance of the Egyptian Antiquities Service.

The stone was brought to the UK by Waynman Dixon in 1872 and transported to Charles Piazzi Smyth in Edinburgh: however, the NMS believes it is secure in its rights to the artefact.

AngusAlive, the culture trust for Angus, has received funding from Museums Galleries Scotland, Montrose Heritage Trust and a private donor to display the statue of Meramuniotes in a new display case, allowing visitors to have a 360° view of it.

The history and artefacts of Ancient Egypt have been a central concern of the NMS in recent months.

A major Egyptian exhibition has been part of the three new permanent galleries opened at the Edinburgh institution this year.

The opening of these galleries marked the completion of the £80m, 15-year project to transform the Victorian building.

The Discovering Ancient Egypt tour will, after Montrose, travel to the Baird Institute in Cumnock from 14 September.