Experiential Mummification #1

Very cool post about experimental mummification… Thanks, Campbell, for sharing!

Animal Mummy Lab

As part of our research for The Leverhulme Trust, the BioBank Team have mummified several bird cadavers using experiential methods seen in the ancient mummies (Fig. 1) (kindly provided by the Natural History Museum Bird group, Tring and productive household pet hunting activity). The use of simple observation and clinical imaging were used to monitor smell, weight loss and temperature/humidity, level of desiccation and preservation, and difficulty in the mummification technique; all of which particularly relate to EM1 and EM10.

Experimental Mummies Figure 1: Wrapped Experimental Animal Mummies

Our experiences with clinical imaging have shown that they can be limited when it comes to collating zooarchaeological data (species identification, Minimum Number of Individuals, age and sex) from animal mummies that contain something other than a single, complete individual. To assess this difficulty, the NHM, Tring donated 6 bags of bird remains for mummification; the caveat being that they did not tell us how many or what species were present…

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Cat Mummies from the Louvre

My ARCHAEO-Crush for the first month of 2016 is cutest thing…


Type: organic remains (animal mummy)
Civilisation: Ancient Egypt
Date: no idea (!)
ARCHAEO-Crush: I don’t think an ARCHAEO-Crush can get any cuter than these little cat mummies!!! Aren’t they absolutely adorable?  The cat mummies are amongst the many mummies of the Musée du Louvre; however, there isn’t any information about them on the gallery labels or the museum website. Nothing regarding their discovery or their date. Zilch, niet, nada.
Paris 2012 211What is remarkable about these little mummies is that their legs were wrapped separately from their body and they look like gambolling kittens! That is why they are so, so, so cute! Actually, I had never seen cat mummies wrapped like this before. Usually, they look like the little guys in the picture on the left.  You have to admit that the effect is not quite the same!  It’s unfortunate not too have any additional information…  Animal mummies are generally offerings to the gods or sometimes mummified household pets buried with their owners.
Bucket list status: I saw these cute mummies back in 2012.
Additional information: 
Since the Louvre does not have any further information about these kitties, there is not much else I can share with you.

Mummies in Philly

Back at the end of June, I went to Philadelphia to spend a day at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. While I was in town, I met up with my friend and former classmate Kelly. It had been years since we had seen each other and caught up over a drink at the museum cafe. The parking meter was what cut short our conversation!

Wanna see mummies at the Penn Museum? Follow the sign!

Wanna see mummies at the Penn Museum? Follow the sign!

The reason I was visiting the museum  was to see mummies! The museum has a section dedicated to mummification in ancient Egypt and, since 2012, there is also an artefact lab when they conserve mummies!  I have been following their blog, In the Artifact Lab: Conserving Egyptian Mummies, for a while and there is great stuff being done there.

Nespakashuti in the Artifact Lab

Nespakashuti in the Artifact Lab

After visiting the mummy galleries, I went to the artefact lab to meet with Molly, a conservator who works there. We chatted about the museum’s mummies and she showed me some wonderful specimens.  There was this Roman mummy of a little boy, with all its bandages removed–he was so incredibly well preserved and beautiful.  He looked like a little boy sleeping… for all eternity.  And I got to meet Wilfred/a, Nespakashuti, the little girl Tanwa and many others. You’ve got to read their blog, it’s really interesting!

This trip was research for one of my projects, about which I’ll you later. It was a nice day, not too tiring… lucky for me, Philly is just an hour away from Raleigh and it’s a direct flight.  Didn’t have to get up at 4am, didn’t get home late. Had fun!

Eight mummies, eight lives, eight stories

British Museum blog

John H Taylor and Daniel Antoine, curators, British Museum

We may think that we know the ancient Egyptians on account of the abundance of carved and painted images and the many texts on stone and papyrus that have survived, but these sources convey a formal, partial and sanitised view; to a large degree they tell us only what the Egyptians wanted posterity to know.

The first mummy entered the Museum’s collection in 1756, and for the past 200 years none of the mummies have been unwrapped. But modern technology, in the form of the CT (computed tomography) scanner, has transformed the way that we can study them, allowing us to see within the wrappings and the mummified bodies, in a non-invasive and non-destructive manner.

We can now look behind the mask of material culture and encounter the actual people of the ancient Nile Valley through a forensic study of their…

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