Mummies

Archive for the ‘Mummies’ Category

Mummy forensics is more than just a show on The History Channel, it is an entire field of Egyptology that helps us understand how the ancient Egyptians lived, worked, played, died, and how they prepared for the afterlife.

In this installment of the Em Hotep mummy series (which will eventually become the Mummy Section) we will take a look at the terms and concepts related to the various methods Egyptologists use to study mummies with links to carefully selected websites and articles to further your own investigation.  Whether you are working on a term paper or just interested in mummies, this primer will get you started.

And just a quick note—some of the subheadings in this primer, such as the part on facial reconstruction, will have their own more detailed sections that will include more media, as well as original interviews, so stay tuned!

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Medicine and Mysteries is a sneak preview of the much larger mummies section coming to Em Hotep.  The format of the mummies section will be to present introductory summaries of relevant topics followed by video clips, followed by links to primary and secondary resources.

In this installment:  The search for Nefertiti, mummies and heart disease, was Tut murdered, mummies and dental care, ancient brain surgery, tracking Lady Tahat and sexing Lady Hor..  Much more..

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Last week we met Mumab, the modern-day ancient Egyptian mummy, and learned a little about what he is up to now.  To recap, he is now on permanent loan to the San Diego Museum of Man and is currently serving as the centerpiece of their new exhibit, Modern Day Mummy: The Art and Science of Mummification.

Since that article ran, the Museum of Man has kindly provided Em Hotep with some photos from the exhibit, so we are returning the favor with a closer look at the exhibit itself.  We will also take an in-depth look at the story behind one of the displays—Ronald Beckett’s trip to New Guinea to help a village set up a program of better mummy maintenance.

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Following up to the Mumab article, Em Hotep presents sixteen different mummy exhibits either already running or opening soon, from all corners of the world.  Who knows?  Maybe the mummies are coming your way soon…

With video clips when available (some clips are from previous runs of the same exhibit, but the content should be pretty consistent).  Enjoy!

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Whether it was officially declared or not, this June has certainly been the Month of the Mummy.  June 10 saw the opening of the Modern Day Mummy: The Art and Science of Mummification exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Man, and then the incredible Mummies of the World exhibit opened at the Franklin Institute on June 18.  All that was needed for a perfect Month of the Mummy was an American convention of the World Mummy Congress, and that was delivered on June 12 – 16 in San Diego.

It is probably not a coincidence that the Seventh World Mummy Congress was convened at the University of San Diego, a short trip across town from the San Diego Museum of Man, where Mumab had just settled into his new home.  Mumab—short for Mummy of University of Maryland at Baltimore—has the distinction of being the first modern ancient mummy.  The inspiration for his creation came in the mid 90’s when mummy expert Dr. Bob Brier realized that the only way to know how ancient Egyptian mummies were made would be to mummify a human cadaver using the same tools and methods the Egyptians used.  And so he did.

In this article Em Hotep will look at the history of Mumab—how he was made, what was learned from him, and what he is up to now.

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Lost Egypt:  Ancient Secrets, Modern Science is a guided interactive exhibit where visitors will be challenged to perform archaeological work such as reconstructing a 3D puzzle of a broken artifact and using computer simulations of the tools archaeologists use to discover and analyze sites and explore a recreation of an Egyptian tomb.

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5
Apr

Mummy Scanners

   Posted by: Shemsu Sesen

Tags: , ,

No, it’s not a new David Cronenberg movie about mummies with exploding heads, it’s an innovative use for those annoying scanners that airport employees use to ogle your naked bod.   

The scanners, technically called terahertz scanners, but more derisively dubbed “digital strip searches,” peek under your clothing but can’t penetrate your body, or any contraband you might have strapped to it. 

 

But terahertz scanners have other properties that have caught the attention of Dr. Frank Ruhli, head of the Swiss Mummy Project.

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So much for the evil god Set keeping his mouth shut—people just seem to insist on questioning authority.  The JAMA article is jammed with answers, but queries continue.  Assembled here for your pleasure and edification are the best examples of critical questioning culled from the Egyptological blogosphere.    

Tangled roots, the passed-over prince, aging them bones, lack of control, and Kate Phizackerley’s Quest for Accuracy.

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Was King Tut a warrior king or “one sick kid”?  Even as the Family of Tutankhamun Project was publishing its findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the Boy King was a frail young man who needed a cane to walk, Egyptologist W. Raymond Johnson was publishing his evidence that Tut was an active young man who rode chariots into battle.

So which is the true Tut?  What if both versions are accurate?  Could this perfect storm of physical challenges and adventurous behavior have led Tutankhamun to a heroic but early grave?

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Meet the mummies of the Family of Tutankhamun Project!  If you are looking for a mummy-by-mummy summary of the recent JAMA article, then you are in luck! 

In The Mummies Gallery we will take a look at each of the mummies in both the study and control groups and pull together the familial and pathological data for easy referencing.

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Was King Tut murdered?  Did Akhenaten have both a male and female physiology?  Did incest and inbreeding lead the Eighteenth Dynasty down a genetic dead end?  Last month the Family of Tutankhamun Project attempted to answer these questions—and more—with the publication of a two-year forensic study of sixteen mummies of the Eighteenth Dynasty.

This article is the first of several in which we will attempt to put the research into layperson’s terms.  First we will take a look at the what, who, where, why and how of the study itself.

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Plus:  Catching Up Em Hotep!

All the world is abuzz with the long-awaited release of the current genetic study of the Eighteenth Dynasty, particularly as it relates to the goose that continues to lay the golden eggs—King Tut. 

Your humble scribe is still mulling over the subject before attempting his own contribution, but in the meanwhile, here are a few excellent pieces from some of the most excellent writers in the Egyptology blogosphere.  In the spirit of parsimony, I have narrowed my selection down to the three which I found to be the most unique in their approach and thought provoking in their implications.  Enjoy!

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smp-tab - PN200805-02_300dpiThe Swiss Mummy Project has been reviewing all of the studies performed on mummies in the last three decades and has compiled a wealth of data about how the ancient Egyptians lived and died.  They discovered that in addition to bad dental health, the ancients suffered from a wide range of maladies which we normally associate with modern life.

So, what did the mummies have to say about living well?

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tut chariot-tabKing Tut is known as the Boy King for two reasons.  The first is the young age at which he assumed the throne—around eight or nine.  The second is that he died at around nineteen, so he never really reached adulthood.  Why he died so young is a question that has been with us since his tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922.

In 2005 a team of top radiologists conducted a series of CT scans on Tutankhamun’s mummy, and when the results were announced the following year at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, the results were not 100% conclusive.  Most of the team felt they had settled the question of what had caused Tut’s early death, but there were some holdouts. 

So when Zahi Hawass announced last August that he was on the verge of announcing the exact cause of Tut’s death, Em Hotep! took notice.  So does a new article and video on Dr. Hawass’ website finally put the question to rest?

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smp-tabThe University of Zurich’s Swiss Mummy Project, headed by anatomist and paleopathologist Dr. Frank Ruhli , has succeeded in mummifying a human leg.  Well, two legs, actually.  Ok, to be honest, the test subject didn’t go so well, so I guess it was one leg after all. 

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