The sarcophaguses were awesome!
THE CURSE OF THE MUMMIES
George Jay Gould I, a visitor to the tomb, died six months later in the French Riviera after he developed a fever following his visit to the tomb. Sir Archibald Douglas-Reid, a radiologist who x-rayed Tutankhamun’s mummy died two months later from a mysterious illness. Howard Carter died in 1939 of lymphoma. Definitely a curse!
If you don’t believe me, check out Hollywood’s take on it all. There’s the 1980 Columbia Pictures Television production, The Curse of King Tut’s Tomb; or the 1992 Lucasfilm TV movie, Young Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Jackal. Or, if you favor documentaries, there’s the 2005 BBC docudrama, Egypt as well as the 1998 IMAX documentary, Mysteries of Egypt.
And if all else fails and you’re laughing at the absurdity of it all, then I know you’ll love Steve Martin’s willfully tacky Saturday Night Live tribute to King Tut. This gem aired during the midst of the Tut-mania of the 1970s when Americans got to meet Egypt’s boy king during his first-ever U.S. visit.
According to Denver’s Egyptian Mummy Exhibit, the four basic steps for mummification remained the same for 3,000 years. Priests mummified the body and performed rituals to help the person reach the afterlife.
EGYPTIAN MUMMY HAS OLDEST KNOWN CASE OF HEART DISEASE
Ahmose Meryet Amon was entombed 3500 years ago at the Deir el-Bahri royal mortuary temple on the west bank of the Nile, opposite the city of Luxor. She was one of 52 mummies from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo subjected to medical scanning by a joint U.S.- Egyptian team.
According to Gregory Thomas, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Irvine and co-leader of the study, tests revealed Ahmose Meryet Amon - "Child of the Moon, Beloved of Amun" - had blockages in five major arteries, including those that supply blood to the brain and heart when she died at 40.
GUIDEBOOK TO THE AFTERLIFE
According to Egyptian practices, mummifying the deceased insured preservation of the body for the journey to the afterlife, where hopefully the dead person would join the god Osiris. Joining the god Osiris actually resulted in the deceased becoming an Osiris.
Osiris was the mythical king considered the first person to gain life after death by being mummified. Initially Egyptians believed only a pharaoh could join Osiris in the afterlife. By 2000 BC they believed anyone could join Osiris as long as he or she were mummified and received a proper burial.
A Guidebook to the Afterlife – the Papyrus of Ani – was created in Egypt about 1250 B.C. by Temple scribe, Ani. His 78 foot long scroll contained 200 prayers, hymns, spells and ritual texts designed to provide a gateway into the afterlife for all Egyptians. Mummies buried with an individualized scroll containing 80 of these hieroglyphic vignettes were more likely to be successful in their journey.
The Papyrus of Ani was purchased in 1888 by Sir E. A. Wallis Budge of the British Museum, where it remains today. The papyrus represents the best preserved, longest, most ornate, and beautifully executed example of Egypt's mortuary text. Before shipping the Papyrus of Ani to England, Budge cute the 78-foot papyrus scroll into thirty-seven sheets of near equal size. What the . . . ?
EGYPT DOESN'T HAVE A MONOPOLY ON MUMMIES
Mummies of humans and other animals (cats, dogs, jackals, horses, gerbils, baboons, fish, snakes, crocodiles, hippos, and even a lion) have been discovered on every continent.
MUMMIES WERE ONCE SOLD AS SOUVENIRS
Until 1946, tourists to Egypt could buy a mummy as a souvenir. Andrew McClelland, a wealthy businessman from Pueblo, Colorado purchased the mummies we saw in Denver's Mummy Exhibit (they are currently on loan from Pueblo's Rosemont Museum) in 1904 while touring the world. Wishing to share his experiences with people at home, he shipped the mummies back to Pueblo, where they were put on display with other "curiosities" - objects bought during his travels.
In 1992, the First World Congress on Mummy Studies was held in Puerto de la Cruz on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. More than 300 scientists attended the Congress to share nearly 100 years of collected data on mummies. The information presented at the meeting triggered a new surge of interest in the subject, with one of the major results being integration of biomedical and bioarchaeological information on mummies with existing databases.