People see mummies as something unique, ancient, mysterious, etc. Of course for some they are just that, but we sometimes forget what else they can be. How about a matchmaker?
I was fascinated by mummies for as long as I can remember and decided to take that path as my educational choice early on. A couple of years later I did and went on to do the classic bits: research mummies and the history of the mummification process, cringe at the smell of opening boxes with mummified remains, fascinate (or bore) other people with the weird obsession and so on. Needless to say this is all amazing, but I have found that another piece of mummy related history thrilled me the most.
There are five ancient Egyptian mummies in the archaeological museum in Zagreb. The most famous one is of a lady shown in the picture. She has dyed hair, she was around 35 years old and is on display in the Etruscan room. The reason? She was wrapped in the Liber Linteus Zagrabiensis, the longest Etruscan text found so far. However, that is not the point of the story. The mummy came to the museum in the 19th century and has been on display ever since. It naturally attracted attention and lots of visitors came specifically to see her. Including two people who are the protagonists of the story.
The unknown man was supposedly an officer in the army, a rather successful one, whatever that meant for the time. The woman, also unknown, was of poorer position, but came to see the mummy on the same day as the officer. The officer had left a red rose next to the mummy and the woman found it. As in a proper Hollywood movie they fell in love and were on their way to a happy ever after life. However, due to class differences, family interventions and the officer leaving for the front, they could not continue their relationship and had never seen each other ever again. Despite all of that the woman came to the museum every year on the anniversary of their encounter and left a rose next to the mummy hoping things will change…
As a gesture to this love and out of affection from then on people started calling the mummy - Rosie.
And here it is, a hundred and more years later we still do, we still sometimes call her Rosie. What I love about this story is that it does not have to be true, and I know it probably isn’t, but it still shows what kind of secondary stories mummies produce and how they can affect people and history. There is a certain poetic point there, the everchanging and lasting history of museums and its collections, where sometimes incredible stories as such emerge. I am sure the Matchmaker mummy or Rosie, whichever you prefer, will continue to connect people and show us one of the most important things: that everybody needs somebody to love, and even ancient Egyptian mummies can help you with that.
Porin is a former Egyptologist from Croatia who currently works outside the field, but still comes back to it whenever he can! He is a former Petrie Museum volunteer and was a speaker at the first EES study day on Egyptian mummies at Leicester in 2014.