For most of us thinking of mummification means thinking of mysterious ancient Egypt and the pharaohs. Indeed, eternal life was the main focus of all ancient Egyptians who believed the body was home in the afterlife to a person's Ka and Ba, without which it would be condemned to eternal wandering. Famous movies such as The Mummy, a British horror film from 1959 to name one, have also contributed their part to our somewhat "Egyptian-biased" perception of mummification. Here is a (2:17 min) reminder:
Nonetheless, mummification existed in many non-Egyptian cultures just as well, as exemplified in the largest and most ambitious mummy exhibitions ever staged, recently opened in the northern Italian town of Bolzano. With more than 60 mummies from Asia, Europe, South America as well as Egypt, Mummies of the World: The Dream of Eternal Life will tour science centers and museums in the United States for a three year tour commencing July 2010. So, to celebrate this spectacular must see exhibition and since we know many of you want to but will not be able to attend, here are 7 famous mummies and mummy cemeteries we think you should see before singing off for your eternal wandering.
Oetzi the Iceman
Among the mummies that will be exhibited on the Dream of Eternal Life show will be the world-famous 5,300-year-old Oetzi. Natural Mummies - mummies that are formed as a result of naturally-occurring environmental conditions - have been found all over the world. Yet, none of them is even remotely amazing as this mummified Neolithic hunter also spelled Oetzi and known as Frozen Fritz or "The Iceman".
- via crystalinks.com
And died. For example, we know he was a member of a relatively advanced farming society and may even have been an Alpine herdsman. His moccasins were not made of bearskin, as previously believed, but from the skin of ancient seasonally migrating cattle made by herdsmen in the region of the Alps. We also know he died from an arrow-inflicted lesion to an artery near his left shoulder.
Grauballemanden the Tollund Man
The Tollund man, shown above, is another fantastic example of what ancient Europeans may have looked like. This naturally mummified corpse was dressed only in a pointed cap and belt when discovered in a peat bog in Denmark in 1952. The Tollund Man is believed to be over 2000 year old from the Pre-Roman Iron Age in Scandinavia.
- By Malene Thyssen via Wikimedia
- Via tollundmanden.dk
- Via USAToday
The above photograph was released by Peruvian press agency ANDINA on 18 May 2007. Authorities of the National Culture Institute said that the mummy is currently suffering from a slight deterioration that could eventually end in a complete decomposition if not saved by new technology.
earliest attempt known to date to intentionally preserve the dead. They are believed to be the remains of individuals from the South American Chinchorro culture found in what is now northern Chile and southern Peru around 5000 B.C. and reaching a peak around 3000 B.C. Their old age is clearly shown in the above photo by Iain McDonald and the one below by Paul but they can still provide a general idea of what you can expect if you happen to pay them a visit.
- by Paul
- Via artslivres
- By Colegota via Wikimedia
- By Ryan Kelly
- By snoww
- Via LATimes
"Due to the ferocity of the epidemic, more cemeteries had to be opened in San Cayetano as well as Cañada de Marfil. Many of the bodies were buried immediately to control the spread of the disease; in some cases, the dying were buried alive by accident. As a result, some of the mummies have horrific expressions attesting to their death in the tombs, though most expressions became fixed postmortem." (Wikipedia)No one knows exactly how many bodies were extracted but unclaimed ones are from time to time extracted and put on display for your enjoyment in the Museo de las Momias in the city of Guanajuato near Mexico City. At the moment, according to L.A. Times, there are 56. Below photos from Guanajuato's Museum of Mummies via studenttravel.about.com.
- Above: Ignacia Aguilar's Mummy, buried alive?
- by Tomascastelazo via Wikimedia
- By Jeffrey
- By David Sgeary
Takla Makan Mummies
In the late 1980's, perfectly preserved 3000-year-old mummies such as the amazing Marquis of Dai Mummy (via chinatravel.net) shown above began appearing in a remote Taklamakan desert.
"They had long reddish-blond hair, European features and didn't appear to be the ancestors of modern-day Chinese people. Archaeologists now think they may have been the citizens of an ancient civilization that existed at the crossroads between China and Europe. The discoveries in the 1980s of the undisturbed 4,000-year-old ”Beauty of Loulan” and the younger 3,000-year-old body of the ”Charchan Man” are legendary in world archaeological circles for the fine state of their preservation and for the wealth of knowledge they bring to modern research." (meshrep.com)
- Taklimakan Baby, Man and Woman Mummies, via ancestry.com
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