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  • Aisha Almisnad Almohannadi

Ethics at the British Museum

Mummies are wonders of ancient Egyptian history. They have attracted special attention because they are human bodies that were preserved, via mummification, for thousands of years. They have been regarded as interesting historical objects through time, and displayed in museums. However, at present, with worldwide recognition of human rights and human dignity, the question of displaying mummies in museums as objects with other historical objects should raise some concerns.

Walking through room 62-63 of Egyptian death and afterlife (the mummies) at the British Museum is a struggle due to overcrowding of people and displayed objects. It was hard to contemplate the objects or even read the labels. Mummies and objects were equally displayed on the shelves. Around the room, the mummies were lying on display with no names to make them seen more as human remains rather than objects. Thinking of these people (the ancient Egyptians) as humans, and how they put great efforts to be remembered, and to prepare themselves for the afterlife, I can say that their remains deserve to be treated with more respect.

In contrast, in room 37, the body of an unknown man found in England named Lindow Man was displayed in a more respectable quiet corner, with few people in the room quietly approaching the display, taking a longer time to look and read the labels. It was a completely different atmosphere compared with the room of the ancient Egyptians. This raises question about the prejudice or inequality of museum displays.


Aisha is a current PhD candidate in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester . She has previously studied for an MA in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, and worked both as an Assistant Curator at New Walk Museum and at Qatar Museums Authority.


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