What is your story of encounter with human remains?

Your Mummy Stories is the heart of the Mummy Stories community. It is a platform for anyone to share their stories of encounter with human remains, in and out of the museum. Want to write your own story? Everyone welcome!

May 4, 2020

There is no better place to learn about ancient Egypt.”[1] This is the bold claim made by the Liverpool World Museum on account of their 20,000-strong collection of Egyptian artefacts, the largest on display in the UK outside of the British Museum. However, it was not the ancient treasures of the pharaohs that drew me to visit the World Museum – I was there to see the temporary exhibition of the Terracotta Warriors, 5,000 miles from their home in Shaanxi province, China. Having been enthralled...

April 26, 2020

The Mütter Museum at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia displayed until recently the skull of an ANZAC soldier who died in 1917. The remains were brought to the museum by a Philadelphia surgeon who treated the soldier at a battlefield hospital in France. The surgeon, named WT Shoemaker, removed the head from the soldier who died and donated the head to the museum in 1917. The removal of the diseased without permission for medial research crosses all ethical lines and should...

April 19, 2020

St Giles Cathedral in Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh was founded in 1124 and became a focal point of the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century. During this turbulent period Scotland cut ties with the Papacy to establish its own national church (the ‘Kirk’ in Scots language), which was Presbyterian in outlook. Unlike the Reformation in England, where King Henry VIII appointed himself supreme head of the church, the Kirk had no head of faith.

Within the walls of this imposing building and...

March 27, 2020

Several years ago, when reading the documents of the Apothecary Chancery, early modern Russia’s official medical department, I came across the following intriguing passage:

I pledge . . . not to spoil [patients’ health] with any kind of affair nor with any kind of cunning and not to give an evil herb or root . . . not to put unclean mumia nor any evil snake poison nor other poisonous animal nor reptile nor bird [nor] any evil and unclean compound that could harm health into medicines . . . to wat...

March 26, 2020

When I first walked into the mummies’ room at New Walk Museum in Leicester, I did not immediately realise the peculiarity of what I was contemplating. Despite the fact that I had visited many museums in my life, I had rarely encountered Egyptian collections. In my imagination, mummies were iconic elements of the Ancient Egyptian world, and if someone asked me to picture Ancient Egypt, the truth would be very cliché. Pyramids, hieroglyphs, ornamented sarcophagi and mummies would be amongst the fi...

January 23, 2020

My first encounter with the ‘Adidas Mummy’ was a Facebook post. It linked to an article from the Siberian Times, and I was excited because Mongolian archaeology features so rarely in the news, let alone on my newsfeed. 

So-called because of the three distinctive stripes on her boots reminiscent of the Adidas logo, this medieval mummy was discovered in the Altai Mountains in Western Mongolia in 2016. Local herders discovered her burial site at Uzuur Gyalan, where excavations promptly began (althou...

January 14, 2020

It was the smell that made me pause in our busy schedule and savour the moment. For the sweet spicy scent was gently emanating from the coffin of Shep en-Mut, a married woman who died around 800 BC and was buried in Thebes, the daughter of the Carrier of the Milk Jar named NesAmenempit. The coffin contained her mummified remains which I and my colleague were carefully placing in a display case. The busyness surrounding us was of museum timetables as we installed the new Ancient Worlds gallery. S...

To the north of the popular tourist destinations below the River Liffey, in an industrial section of the growing city, stands a somewhat unimpressive church. St. Michan’s church was founded in Dublin, Ireland in 1095. Parts of the structure date back almost 1,000 years ago, but the current church building was constructed the 17th century. Today, the Anglican church conducts services, and is open to the public for tours of the historic collections, including an 18th century pipe organ, upon which...

April 29, 2019

How do mummies, or the broader spectrum of burial rituals (in Egypt and further afield), fit within the context of the art museum?

February 25, 2019

Human mummies have never been all that fascinating to me, sure, I had the little kid fascination, but I think I always knew there was something a bit dubious about showing off human remains. The Bog Bodies toured my home town and I had already seen them and was very uncomfortable with them so I conveniently lost my school permission slip and stayed at school watching a film that day. I did go through a period of fascination with animal mummies, I liked that they were a way to honour gods that I,...

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