Unwrapping the mummy – Performance and Science
2012 12 11

From: PastHorizons

Mummies have been objects of horror and fascination in popular culture since the early 1800s at least — over a century before Boris Karloff portrayed an ancient Egyptian searching for his lost love in the 1932 film “The Mummy.”

Public “unwrappings” of mummified human remains performed by both showmen and scientists heightened the fascination, but also helped develop the growing science of Egyptology.


Margaret Murray, third from left, and team after unwrapping Khnum-Nakht

Dr. Kathleen Sheppard an historian from the Missouri University of Science and Technology argues this point in her latest article entitled “Between Spectacle and Science: Margaret Murray and the Tomb of the Two Brothers” in the December issue of the journal Science in Context.

A public spectacle

While mummy unwrappings served as public spectacles that objectified exotic artefacts, they were also scientific investigations that sought to reveal medical and historical information about ancient life.

On Thursday, 7 May 1908, The Manchester Guardian reported the unveiling of human remains in the Chemistry Theatre at Manchester University. As the “peering collection” of men and women looked on:

“[the ancient mummy] Khnumu Nekht was bared of his wrappings and brought once more to the light of day. . . . Near the body the linen sheets had rotted, and they fell to pieces at a touch. The bones, however, were more or less perfect. There were traces of flesh on them. It was on the whole a gruesome business, and one or two people left early. (“Mummy of Khnumu Nekht” 1908)”

Margaret Alice Murray, was leading the “gruesome business” at the front of the theatre, wearing a white pinafore apron and her hair neatly pinned back.

A few notes survive from the unwrapping in the archives of the Manchester Museum. The only detailed report of the investigation, The Tomb of the Two Brothers, was published two years later and remains today one of the leading studies of the mummification processes and human remains of Middle Kingdom Egypt.

Educating the public

Sheppard says Egyptologist Margaret Murray, the first woman to publicly unwrap a mummy, sought to unravel the mysteries of ancient Egypt by exposing mummified human remains. She says Murray’s work is culturally significant because it is “poised between spectacle and science, drawing morbid public interest while also producing ground-breaking scientific work that continues to this day.”


Margaret Murray and team unwrapping Khnum-Nakht in the Chemistry Auditorium, University of Manchester.


[...]

Read the full article at: pasthorizonspr.com






Mummy Unwrapping Parties
"Nobody knows when mummy unwrapping parties first started, but royalty used to throw them quite often. Although mummy unwrapping ultimately went out of fashion, mummies never have."

See the videos:
http://www.history.com/videos/mummies-mummy-unwrapping-parties






Mummy Unwrapping Parties were a very popular social event in Victorian England. After dinner the guests would retire to the parlor and the mummy would be unwrapped to reveal the contents and search for trinkets, which the guests would keep as party favors.
Source













Tune into Red Ice Radio and guests will speak about how sometimes egyptology and archaeology can be more performance than science:

Robert Bauval - Tutankhamun’s DNA, Zahi Hawass Chasing Mummies & Robert’s Egypt Tour

Robert Bauval - Post-Revolution Egypt

Andrew Collins - Egypt’s Underworld, Tomb of the Birds, Cave of the Snake & Secret Excavation Rumors

Andrew Collins - Beneath The Pyramids, Giza Cave System Rediscovered

Carmen Boulter - The Pyramid Code, Band of Peace, The Migration of the Nile & Cosmic Cycles

Robert Schoch - Hour 1 - The Mystery of the Sphinx

John Anthony West - Ancient Egypt









Related Articles
Mummy Unwrapping Party at the Officer’s Inn February 11th
Who stabbed him in the back? Scan reveals 5,500-year-old mummy murder mystery
DNA of Hungarian mummies may help combat tuberculosis
Mummy with Mouthful of Cavities Discovered
Powdered Mummy, Gladiator Blood, and other Historical Medicines Made from Human Corpses
Company Offers Pet Mummification Service
Mummified Playboy Playmate found in Los Angeles
Mummified remains of babies linked to ’Peter Pan’ author
Mummy unwrapping brought Egyptology to the public
Margaret Murray unwrapping a mummy from Rifeh (1908)


Latest News from our Front Page

Magaluf bar where British girl was filmed performing sex acts on 24 men is shut down after police investigation into video
2014 07 26
Is this what the youth in Britain and Europe is spending their their energy, money, efforts and innocence on? The young girl, pictured, was lured into performing multiple sex acts after organisers offered a free drink although she thought a holiday was on offer* Council officials launched an official investigation after the video went viral Playhouse bar in Magaluf and entertainment ...
Prejudice is a Form of Common Sense - Hard-Wired Into the Human Brain, Says ASU Study
2014 07 26
Contrary to what most people believe, the tendency to be prejudiced is a form of common sense, hard-wired into the human brain through evolution as an adaptive response to protect our prehistoric ancestors from danger. So suggests a new study published by Arizona State University researchers in the May issue of the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology," which contends that, ...
The State is a Bully
2014 07 24
In the history of Western philosophy and social theory, no really silly idea has been more successful than the theory of the social contract. It is in fact not a theory of the social contract. It is a theory of the political contract. It is the idea, promoted by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, that, at some point in ...
NATO Exercise in Ukraine Coincided with MH-17 Shoot-down
2014 07 24
Rapid Trident was omitted from the flurry of coverage on the shoot-down MH-17. From the U.S. Army in Europe website: Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies. ...
Warning of ’imminent’ terror attack in Norway
2014 07 24
Norwegians were warned Thursday of the concrete possibility of a terror attack occurring in that country at the hands of people with connections to an extremist group in Syria. A press conference was called in Oslo, Norway on Thursday where an announcement was made of a "possible concrete threat" to national security in that country from terrorists related to an extremist ...
More News »