Angela Stienne
Search for other papers by Angela Stienne in
Current site
Google Scholar
The mummy as medicine, the mummy in medicine
in Mummified
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

This chapter begins with the figure of Henry S. Wellcome, the businessman who founded the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum. Wellcome amassed a huge collection of ancient Egyptian materials, including human remains such as skulls. Today, many of these are still held at the Wellcome Collection in Bloomsbury.

The presence of such materials in an institution dedicated to the history of medicine is no accident. As the chapter explains, people in the medieval and early modern periods consumed mummies in a powdered form, known as mumia, in order to treat illnesses. This practice fell away around the end of the early modern period, but medical interest in mummies remained strong, increasingly focusing on the question of how these bodies could be so well preserved. This gave rise to the practice of ‘openings’, where anatomists would dissect mummies, often before an audience of the public.

The chapter describes the activities of two Frenchmen, the chemist Guillaume-François Rouelle and the mineralogist Frédéric Cailliaud, who played roles in advancing the scientific study of Egyptian mummies. It concludes with a more recent example of a medical examination: a CT scan of a mummy named Tamut, carried out at the Royal Brompton Hospital in the early 2010s.

  • Collapse
  • Expand


The stories behind Egyptian mummies in museums


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 160 150 7
Full Text Views 13 3 0
PDF Downloads 12 3 0