18 Jun 2011

Mummies!

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Egyptian mummy

What exactly do mummies from Ancient Egypt, Chile, Peru, deceased Hungarians, and the body of a dog discovered in a peat bog in Germany have in common? Not much, beyond being dead and provoking in the living a morbid fascination on the basis of inevitable “as I am now, so you shall be” reflections.

Strict considerations of substantive factual relationship have not deterred Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, however, from offering “the largest exhibition of real mummies and related artifacts ever assembled.”

The New York Times reports:

There are 150 objects on display, most on loan from German museums. They include not just the expected relics of ancient Egypt, but also unexpected relics of that time and place: mummies of a falcon, an ibis, a crocodile; a mummified foot separated from its companion limbs during an era when mummies were plundered for their parts; a startling Egyptian head from the Roman era, half wrapped in embalmer’s linen.The sensations accumulate, for displayed here too are far less well-known mummies of South America, where, over thousands of years, multiple cultures honed embalming techniques, from the ancient Chinchorros in Peru to the 13th-century Chiu-chiu in Chile, leading up to the Incas, with their human sacrifices and death celebrations. And here, too, are the members of a single family from 18th-century Hungary, the ill-fated Orlovitses, who perished when tuberculosis ravaged the small town of Vac. Their bodies were rediscovered in 1994, naturally mummified, their paper-thin skin pocked with small holes left by stray bugs in a forgotten church crypt.

Now through October 23rd.

Exhibition web-site

Hat tip to Fred Lapides.

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