The Chinchorro mummies are found in northern Chile and southern Peru; the oldest of them date to thousands of years before the first Egyptian mummies. Some of them mummified naturally, but most were intentionally mummified. The hot, arid conditions of the Atacama desert aided in this process. However, these mummies are now the latest victims of climate change, as increased humidity encourages bacterial growth that is transforming them into black ooze.
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.A Q&A with author, photographer, and ossuary expert Paul Koudounaris.
"...scientists have discovered that two 3,000-year-old Scottish "bog bodies" are actually made from the remains of six people."
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.
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 for yourself.
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....
A story that only gets stranger and sadder. A gold-masked mummy, whose sensational discovery last year sparked an ownership row between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, has turned out not only to be a modern fake but also the apparent victim in a macabre murder mystery.
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.
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.