Angela Stienne
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The mummy of the future
in Mummified
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"This penultimate chapter looks to the future, considering how new technologies are changing the ways human remains are displayed. It begins with the Body Worlds exhibition, where ‘plastinated’ human cadavers are displayed to paying customers, ostensibly for educational purposes.

The chapter moves on to January 2020, when researchers used 3D modelling to ‘recreate’ the voice of the mummy Nesyamun. This project was justified on the basis that the mummy was being given a voice – a dubious claim that raises questions about how much we project our own fantasies on to Egyptian mummies. Other technologies, such as those used in ‘virtual unwrappings’, present similar difficulties. Although in many cases they were developed to resolve ethical challenges, their extended usage often generates new ones.

The rest of the chapter considers the ethics around choosing to display Egyptian mummies at all, using a case from Manchester Museum. Between 2008 and 2012, the museum held a public consultation on the subject. At one point, it covered up its three mummies with a shroud. However, this was met with negative responses. Museum visitors in the West generally see it as their right to view human remains in museums.

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The stories behind Egyptian mummies in museums


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