Two mummies buried in a museum garden … a coffin that rotates … skulls amassed for dubious research … What if the most interesting stories about Egyptian mummies are not the ones you know?
Mummified explores the curious, unsettling and controversial stories of the Egyptian mummies held by museums in France and Britain. From powdered mummies consumed as medicine, to mummies unrolled in public, dissected for race studies and DNA-tested in modern laboratories, there is a lot more to these ancient human remains than meets the eye. Following mummies on their journeys from Egypt to museums and private collections in Paris, London, Leicester and Manchester, the book revisits the history of these bodies that have fascinated Europeans for so long.
Mummified explores stories of life and death, of collecting and viewing, and of interactions – sometimes violent and sometimes moving – that raise questions about the essence of what makes us human.
, 11 but also plays, poems, accounts of the many mummy unwrappings in Britain and the United States, and tours of mummies and their coffins through the United States that occurred during Poe's lifetime. 12 I focus here upon imaginative works that could have motivated Poe. The speech of the mummy The popularisation of ancient Egyptiana in the early nineteenth century in the wake of Napoleon Bonaparte's Egyptian campaign, the publication of the multi
Grafton Elliot Smith and Howard Carter conducted in Cairo in 1903, during which the mummy of Tuthmose IV was subjected to X-ray analysis, marking a starting point for the scientific and, most importantly, non-destructive study of ancient Egyptian mummies. 5 Although the technology was introduced and successfully applied very early in the Twentieth Century, it was several decades until ethical considerations made non-destructive techniques more desirable and X-ray imaging became standard in mummy studies. 6 Although mummy
, Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers , p. 270. 37 Stoker, The Jewel of Seven Stars , p. 157. 38 On this subject, see also Jasmine Day's assessment of mummy unwrapping as figurative rape; Day, The Mummy's Curse , p. 43
panels have been especially apt at eliciting romantic responses. Just as Flinders Petrie made a point of keeping skulls of portrait mummies from Hawara for comparison, 23 so Frenchman Albert Gayet, the leader of 1903 excavations at the site of Antinoe, apparently took great pains to unwrap mummies and compare their faces with their portrait panels. 24 Photographs appear in his excavation report showing the scene prior to, and devastation after, a mass mummy unwrapping. Further images appear of the supposed mummy of a woman
number of museums beyond UCL; most famously at Manchester Museum where she carried out a ground-breaking mummy unwrapping; she also catalogued at the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh, the National Museum in Dublin, and the Ashmolean Museum.87 Some of this work was, again, motivated by the need to supplement an extremely small income, rather than by a commitment to museum archaeology, and the difficulty which women within archaeology faced in trying to earn a living wage was clearly significant. Within museums, women had opportunities to develop and innovate
suggest that it was the mummy of a Greek individual. The papyrus deciphered by Champollion confirmed that it was a young man who had died on 2 June in 116 CE. A series of drawings by Cailliaud in his Voyage à Méroé illustrate the various aspects of the mummy and the coffin, including a drawing done before the unwrapping, and one of the face of the mummy unwrapped. The second mummy opened by Cailliaud
various celebrated physicians … found in tomb of Memnon … case well preserved’. 24 The description confirms that this was the mummy unwrapped with such fanfare by Belzoni prior to the exhibition. Belzoni’s exhibition was a huge success, attracting 1,900 visitors on its first day. The format of the exhibition itself was both ambitious and perceptive, capturing the public imagination. The
virtually unrolling a mummy much more ethical than historical mummy unwrappings, or is it equally intrusive to a dead person who gave no consent to their insides being displayed to all? What if the virtual unwrappings offered to the public today are just the twenty-first-century equivalent of public unrollings? The latest technologies used by curators to bring new life to mummies are changing our