I understand your great grandfather was a grave robber?
My family is Greek and they lived in Alexandria back when it was a Greek town. At that point there was a trade in mummy dust, which they called mummia, which was thought to be a cure all. Louis XIV actually used to carry mummia in a pouch and snort little bits of it. The problem was that by the late 19th century they didn’t have a bunch of old Egyptian mummies to dig up anymore. Instead, when criminals were executed, people would steal their bodies and take them to the middle of the Sahara and cover them in tar. They’d come back a year later, dig them up and sell them to apothecaries, where they’d get ground up. This was a burgeoning trade.
, and ossuary
expert Paul Koudounaris
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Dec 30, 2012 -
Why do mummies scream? Are screaming mummies really testaments to horrific deaths? Or are they the result of natural processes, botched or ad hoc mummification jobs, or the depredations of tomb robbers?
Archaeology Online examines the science and history behind the gape-mouthed "masks of agony" seen on some mummies, and explores their portrayal in entertainment and pop culture. The article includes lots of interesting and informative additional links.
posted by amyms
on Mar 30, 2009 -
The Valley of the Kings not done yet?
British archaeologists have discovered a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings - the first such find since Howard Carter found Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922. Ironically, the new tomb was a mere 5 meters from Tutankhamun's. The tomb includes unopened sarcophagi and 5 undisturbed mummies.
Patricia Podzorski, curator of Egyptian Art at the University of Memphis, said "People have been saying the valley was done for 100 years. They said it before Howard Carter found King Tutankhamun's tomb and they said it after. But, obviously, they are still wrong."
posted by robhuddles
on Feb 10, 2006 -
Long ago in the town of Palermo in Sicily some monks got together and decided that they wanted to start praying to one of their own after he had passed to the Great Beyond so they embalmed him
. Four hundred years and 8,000 corpses later you can see the Capuchin Catacombs
posted by euphorb
on Jul 11, 2004 -
The republic of Kalmykia
is a unique place. A member of the Russian Federation, it was settled in 1608 by Mongols from what is now the Chinese province of Xinjiang. It is the only state in Europe where Buddhism is the dominant religion, and probably the only state in the world whose president
claims to have created an "extra-sensory field" around it. Kalmykia's spiritual leader, Telo Rinpoche
, is an American from Philadelphia who was appointed by the Dalai Lama. There has been a long history of migrations between Europe and Asia. In one really intriguing case, 3000-year-old mummies
with reddish-blond hair, Caucasian features and wearing tartans similar in design to Celtic ones, were discovered in the Takla Makan Desert
in Xinjiang. If these ancient Caucasians were absorbed by the population of Xinjiang, then perhaps the Kalmyk migration might have unknowingly been a return to their ancestral lands. [First link via plep].
posted by homunculus
on Dec 29, 2002 -
There's mummies coming from Afghanistan
said yesterday's Horizon
on the BBC. This is the story of a supposedly 2600 year old mummified Persian princess. It was put up for sale for $11 million, but turned out to be a fraud and possibly contains the remains of a woman murdered in 1996. The mummy was probably manufactured somewhere in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, well known these days....
posted by knutmo
on Sep 21, 2001 -
Last summer, lagado posted a link
on some interesting mummies found in a Chinese desert. This is an article
on the ensuing (and continuing) political problems they've caused.
posted by CRS
on May 14, 2001 -
So have you heard the one about the Golden Persian Princess Mummy?
Discovered in October by Pakistani police during a murder investigation of an antiquities smuggler, this story has only gotten weirder. Said to be 2,600-years-old, the body of a young woman has been preserved using the Egyptian
mummification process but bears cuneiform inscriptions in Old Persian: "I, daughter of Xerxes, the great king, I am Ruduamna". Since its discovery, the governments of Iran and Afghanistan have each claimed ownership of the mummy and all three countries are now engaged in a bitter war of claim and counter-claim. Now some experts are starting to say that the whole thing looks like it's just an elaborate hoax
posted by lagado
on Dec 26, 2000 -
The Mummies of the Tarim Basin
were discovered fifteen years ago by Chinese archaeologists working in the salty deserts of far western China. These bodies date from between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago and have been preserved so well in the extremely dry salty conditions that some of them look like they're still alive. Even more remarkable is that their clothing is still intact including tapestries and tartans. Finally these people were six feet tall, had long noses and fair hair and there is strong evidence that they spoke a language whose closest relatives are Celtic and Latin.
posted by lagado
on Aug 7, 2000 -