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  • Kelly Shand

The Peabody Mummy

This is the first mummy I ever saw. As a child I found it both repellent and fascinating. And now every time I go back it still is both. One of the reasons it’s repellent is because of the strangeness of the burial customs. Even understanding the customs now, it’s still exotic. It takes me back to the child who wondered, why?

It’s fascinating because the mummy is of an unknown murdered man. Everytime I go to the museum, I hope that somehow they will know who it is. It’s also fascinating because it’s a look into the past. It’s a view of another time, another place. While it is not the only reason I love museums and history, it is one reason. While it is very exotic and different, a mummy touches a common desire in humanity for a life after death. Wanting our lives and contributions to be remembered.

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven is the oldest museum at Yale University. Started as a collection of curiosities from around the world typical of college collections in the 18th century, it was built up by various professors over the next century. It is well known for its fossil collections, started in part by Professor O.C. Marsh, who was the first professor of Paleontology at Yale and in the United States.

The current museum building opened in December of 1925. The Egyptian collection dates from 1890. It was acquired from Judge Barringer who began the collection while working in Egypt. Originally the Yale Egyptian collection was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, from 1884-1888. The mortuary chamber of the Vizier Nespakashuty is from Deir al Bahari, which is most famous for being the site of the Temple of Hapshetsut. The chamber was recreated and dates from the Late period XXV-XXX Dynasty. The mummy itself is from the Ptolemic period, about 304-330.


Kelly Shand is a fan of Egyptian mummies from a museum visitor standpoint. She does have a MS in Library and Information Science and Archives Management. She studied Museum and Gallery Studies from the University of St Andrews and currently lives in the USA.


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