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Bestselling Books at the Mummy Tombs

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

April 2010

DISCOVERY EGYPT:

'Valley of the Golden Mummies' yields another Greco-Roman mummy (abcnews.go.com)

"Egyptian archaeologists carrying out excavations at the site of a planned youth center have found 14 tombs dating back to the third century BC, including one with a female mummy adorned with jewelry. The Greco-Roman tombs, in Bahariya Oasis, 300 km (190 miles) southwest of Cairo, were discovered during probes that indicated they may be part of a much larger necropolis, Egypt's Culture Ministry said in a statement on Monday. A 97-cm (38-inch) tall female mummy, found in the stair-lined interior of one of the rock-hewn tombs, was cast in colored plaster inlaid with jewellery and eyes. Archaeologists, who dug at the site ahead of the planned construction of a youth center, found the tombs contained other treasures as well. The area has now been turned over to Egypt's antiquities authority. "Early investigations uncovered four anthropoid masks made of plaster, a gold fragment decorated with engravings of the four sons of Horus, and a collection of coins, and clay and glass vessels," the ministry's statement quoted Egypt's chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass as saying.... Bahariya Oasis is home to Egypt's famed Valley of the Golden Mummies, where a collection of 17 tombs with about 254 mummies was discovered in 1996...."

 

MUMMY TROUBLE PHILIPPINES:

Philippines' Kabayan mummies endangered by insects, mold, and water seepage (mb.com.ph)

"The world-famous mummies that placed this fifth-class town on the tourism map are now on the verge of decay and are being attacked by insects, prompting officials of the National Museum to bring in laboratory experts to restore the mummies. Local officials and tourism stakeholders here described the condition of the mummies as now being affected by molds while others stocked in several caves are being attacked by rodent mites. Worse, water is now seeping into the coffins where the mummies are placed, thus, contributing to their rapid deterioration. Earlier, experts from the National Museum discovered the fingernails of the mummies are reportedly chipping while their teeth are falling off, thus the need to provide the required technical assistance to for their upkeep. Initially, the experts to be commissioned by the National Museum will conduct facial cleaning of the mummies while the other mummies will be brought to the laboratory to be fixed. Previously, the national government has been allocating financial support to the municipal government for the fencing and cleaning of the mummy burial caves aside from the continuous maintenance that they are doing at the different historical sites in the town. The National Museum reportedly found two other mummies, one in France and another in Germany, which are known to be "Filipinos" based on the labels reflected on the containers. Furthermore, the discovered mummies were found to be Filipinos after the same were subjected to DNA testing, thus, the need to facilitate their repatriation so that they will be brought to their respective places...."

--Mummies now off limits to visitors (newsinfo.inquirer.net)

"This town’s centuries-old mummies are fast deteriorating and local officials are alarmed that their condition might earn the ire of their ancestors’ spirits. This has forced Mayor Faustino Aquisan to declare Timbac Cave in Barangay (village) Pacso and Bangao Cave in Barangay Gusaran off limits to visitors pending measures that the National Museum would enforce to arrest the damage on the mummies. “A visit to the caves was always a part of our summer treks to Mount Pulag. But this time, we decided to impose a ban to enable us to save the mummies,” Aquisan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday. Berry Sangao, the town’s tourism officer, said the deterioration of the mummies has reached a critical stage. “The bones and the skulls’ skins are fast decaying. The body parts of the mummies are [falling off] while most are being feasted upon by insects and rodents,” he said. Sangao said National Museum experts who assessed the mummies’ condition told him they were suffered from fungal and other bacterial infections...."

 

MUMMY SCIENCE CONNECTICUT:

Barnum Museum mummy suffered terrible dental disease (stamfordadvocate.com)

"An expert in forensic dentistry at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine in Farmington said that Pa-Ib, the 4,000-year-old Egyptian mummy at the Barnum Museum, suffered greatly from dental disease in the last years of her life. But the expert, Dr. Alan G. Lurie, DDS, said that whether that was the actual cause of her death would be impossible to tell because of damage to the skull that was caused during the mummification process. But he said that she suffered from "very dangerous lesions" at the roots of the lower canines that can lead to infections of the sinuses, and ultimately, abscesses of the brain. He did not examine the mummy directly, but rather looked at a series of X-rays taken of the relic in January by a team from Quinnipiac University that conducted a new round of research on the mummy. Dental disease was a leading cause of death throughout most of human history until dental technology began to make major advances in the 19th century, combined with the development of anesthesia. "In western Europe, before the bubonic plague, infection from dental disease was the leading cause of death," he said. "It was a scourge of human beings for a long, long time." When the Egyptians prepared a body for mummification, the brain would be removed by breaking a hole in the base of cranium, or brain case, and allowing the brain tissue to flow out of the nose. In Pa-Ib's case, the cranium was then filled with tree resin...."

 

EXHIBIT CALIFORNIA:

Bowers Museum opens Silk Road mummies exhibit (ocregister.com)

"A new exhibition at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art demonstrates that, as far back as 1800 B.C., Westerners and Easterners were traveling, trading and intermingling back and forth between Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean. They were interacting along what became known as the Silk Road – 1,500 years before it took on that famed name. Through July 25, the Bowers is presenting "Secrets of the Silk Road: Mystery Mummies from China." The exhibit of more than 150 objects and two mummies is actually the seventh Chinese show the Bowers has displayed in the past decade, if you count "Tibet: Treasures from the Roof of the World" in 2004. There's no doubt the Bowers maintains a special relationship with China, its museums and cultural ministry. How else could the Bowers coax the release and transportation of the Tarim Basin mummies and their trappings, which are touring outside of Asia for the first time? Credit should go to Anne Shih, the inexhaustible vice chair of the museum, and Bowers President Peter C. Keller, who has been to China more than 70 times. Most of the artifacts on display are from the collections of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum and the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology in Urumqi. Kind of a mouthful, but those institutions are located near the excavations, in the arid desert of Western China known as the Tarim Basin. This region lies at the crossroads between Europe and Asia – hence, the significance of the Silk Road, which would run as a trading route through this land for centuries. It's the lack of humidity, and the fact that many of the objects were freeze dried, that has preserved them so well over the centuries. While the Bowers has been advertising three mummies in the show, there are actually only two – the celebrated "Beauty of Xiaohe" (circa 1800 B.C.-1500 B.C.) and an infant mummy that dates to approximately the eighth century B.C...."

 

MUMMY SCIENCE GERMANY:

New airport body scanners may come in handy to study mummies safely (thelocal.de)

"The high-frequency “terahertz” scanners can scan fragile mummies in a way that is less damaging than X-ray scanners, which can destroy precious DNA, the scientists say. Markus Walther and Andrea Bitzer from the Materials Research Centre at the University of Freiburg, have found that the terahertz rays can penetrate the cloth material used to wrap mummies and conveniently probe the dessicated body beneath. The airport scanners – often derisively referred to a “naked scanners” or “digital strip searchers” – have come up against fierce opposition in Europe and particularly in Germany with privacy campaigners arguing they effectively show the passenger nude. The airport body scanners take advantage of the fact the waves penetrate clothing but don’t pass through the human body, which is heavily hydrated, or any objects hidden under the clothes.  But the high frequency waves could more effectively probe the dessicated tissue of ancient mummies, Walther said, even if larger and denser parts such as the head remained impenetrable. The idea had come by chance to both Andreas Bitzer and Lena Öhrström from the University of Zurich, Bitzer recalled. The idea was eagerly embraced by the Swiss Mummy Project, a collaboration of Swiss universities, foundations and museums...."

 

CRIME? ITALY:

Seventeen years after her disappearance, girl's mummified body found inside alcove under church roof (iol.co.za)

"With only the light from his cellphone to guide him, the young builder gingerly negotiated the rafters beneath the roof of the 15th-century church of the Most Holy Trinity in the Italian city of Potenza. For weeks parishioners had complained of a water leak, so Corneliu Todilca, 25, went to investigate - a task that would end with the most unexpected, and shocking, of discoveries. For there, hidden in a tiny brick alcove, were the mummified remains of a body. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing," said Todilca. "She had clothes on. She had shoes, a necklace, a watch, sandals and glasses, but I couldn't make out anything else. And I didn't really want to hang about any longer." DNA tests on the corpse have yet to be completed, but there is little doubt that the body is that of Elisa Claps, who disappeared, aged 16, in 1993. She was last seen on Sunday, September 12, when she met a young man called Danilo Restivo at the church.  The shocking discovery saw 7 000 residents of Potenza attend a memorial service for Elisa. As her brother Gildo Claps said: "There's a lot of anger because it's been 17 years of hell. The discovery of the body will help us to finally find those responsible." But it is not just in Potenza that emotions are running high...."

 

CRIME PERU:

'Peruvian police seize stolen Inca mummy and ancient ceramics (laht.com)

"The mummy of a child along with several pre-Columbian ceramics were seized by Peruvian police from traffickers who planned to sell them on the black market, the official Andina news agency said. The looted antiquities were recovered last Friday from two residences in the southern region of Cuzco. The operation was the result of investigations by Cuzco police intelligence agents. The two properties searched were located in the Pisac district, some 1,100 kilometers (684 miles) southeast of Lima. The mummy was discovered in the first home to be inspected, and was found covered with an Inca cloak and in an apparent state of decomposition. Found in the same residence was a fabric of the Paracas culture, along with 23 pre-Inca ceramics from the Chavin and Mochica cultures. Confiscated from the second home that the police entered were 15 Inca ceramics. The objects seized were apparently to be shown to potential buyers and sold to the highest bidder, according to police. Prosecutors are already preparing an indictment against the traffickers, while the items that were confiscated will be handed over to the Cuzco regional branch of Peru’s National Institute of Culture...."

 

March 2010

DISCOVERY Italy:

Is there a Roman mummy inside the unique burrito-folded lead coffin? (vancouversun.com)

"A mysterious, 1,700-year-old coffin made from a 360-kilogram slab of lead -- bizarrely folded over its ancient corpse like a "burrito" -- has been unearthed on the outskirts of Rome by a team of archeologists that includes a visiting professor at Hamilton's Mc-Master University. The gravesite at Gabii, a once-thriving city-state located about 20 kilometres from the centre of old Rome, is prompting speculation by experts that a great gladiator, beloved bishop or some other notable figure from the 3rd-century AD was given the rare honour of a sheet-metal burial. "All we can say so far about the contents is that the lead wrapping contains a human skeleton -- or at least a portion thereof -- as there is visible bone at the open, foot-end of the sarcophagus," McMaster University archeologist Jeffrey Becker, managing director of the U.S.-led dig at Gabii, told Canwest News Service. "Once we assess the contents, we will make a plan of how to study them, but we are interested in studying any human remains inside." Gabii is located due east of Rome, along the ancient road once known as the Via Gabina, in the central Italian region that was called Latium around the time of Christ. The historian Plutarch named Gabii as the birthplace of Romulus and Remus, the mythic twin founders of Rome. The city had existed for more than 1,000 years before it began to decline around AD 300 -- about the time the lead-encased body was buried...."

 

DISCOVERY FRANCE:

'Pickled' brain from medieval French child found in Quimper (msnbc.msn.com)

"An international team of researchers has identified intact neurons and cerebral cells in a mummified medieval brain, according to a study published in the journal Neuroimage. Found inside the skull of a 13th century A.D. 18-month-old child from northwestern France, the brain had been fixed in formalin solution since its discovery in 1998. "Although reduced by about 80 percent of its original weight, it has retained its anatomical characteristics and most of all, to a certain degree its cell structures," anatomist and palaeopathologist Frank Ruhli, head of the Swiss Mummy Project at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, told Discovery News. The brain was the only tissue preserved in the infant's skeletonized body.... The brain appeared almost intact. The grooves and furrows — gyri and sulci — that make up the surface of the brain's cerebral cortex were still clearly visible, as well the frontal, temporal and occipital lobe.... According to the researchers, the amazing preservation of the medieval brain occurred because of the burial's peculiar location. Wrapped in a leather envelope inside a wooden coffin, with a pillow under the head, the infant was exhumed in Quimper-Bretagne, France. Here acidic clay soil and fresh and briny water (the city lies at the confluence of three rivers amid Atlantic tides) basically preserved the brain like a pickle...."

 

MUMMY SCIENCE ROYAL INCA MUMMIES:

Search for five of the royal Inca mummies--presumably placed at the Hospital of San Andres in Lima--discussed in speech by anthropologist (unm.edu)

[In a speech at the University of New Mexico on March 12, 2010, anthropologist Brian Bauer from the University of Illinois at Chicago spoke on "Searching for the Royal Inca Mummies."] "For more than a century archaeologists and historians have focused on the fate of the mummies of the Inca kings following the Spanish conquest of Peru. Several lines of evidence indicate that five of the royal mummies were deposited in the Hospital of San Andrés in Lima in 1560. In [his] presentation, Bauer summarize[d] what is currently known concerning the fate of the royal Inca mummies as well as the results of a recent ground-penetrating radar survey and an archaeological testing program which [were] conducted on the hospital grounds. The excavations revealed: the location of hospital's first cemetery, the remains of a 19th century fountain, an Early Colonial trash pit, and most intriguingly, a vaulted structure. “While we did not find the royal mummies, the historical research and archaeological field work yielded new information on the history of the San Andrés compound and life in Lima during Early Colonial times,” Bauer said...."

 

CRIME? UK:

Mummified hand stolen from Wiltshire pub for second time (bbc.co.uk)

"A mummified severed hand that vanished from a Wiltshire pub six years ago has disappeared again. The relic, thought to belong to a gambler caught cheating at cards, has been taken from its display case at the Haunch of Venison, in Salisbury. After the hand went missing in 2004, it was secretly returned a few weeks later. Staff at the pub said they hoped it would be returned again before they contacted the police. The hand, which clutches a number of 18th Century playing cards, was first discovered when the pub was renovated in 1911. David Prodger, who works at the pub, said the tourist attraction went missing on Wednesday. He said: "It's kept locked in a cage, so whoever took it must have come prepared to unscrew the locks...."

 

EXHIBIT NEW YORK:

'To Live Forever: Art and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt' opens at Brooklyn Museum (nytimes.com)

"You can’t take it with you. Or so you think if you are an enlightened citizen of the modern world. All your earthly possessions and attainments aren’t going to do you a bit of good after you’ve gone. The ancient Egyptians, of course, thought otherwise. They believed that this terrestrial sojourn was only a prologue to the main attraction, the afterlife, and they devoted much of their tremendous creative and technological ingenuity to ensuring that their dead — the wealthy ones, anyway — would have everything needed on the next plane of existence. They pickled the bodies of the deceased, stocked their graves and tombs with food, drink, jewelry, furniture, pets, reading material and whatever else that might come in handy upon awakening in the next dimension. Whether those efforts paid off for the departed we’ll never know, but the collective commitment to postmortal futurity did not prevent the Egyptians from maintaining a powerful, 3,000-year, multidynastic empire. And what they so carefully preserved has been a boon for modern scholars, museums and art lovers, as well as grave robbers and antiquities dealers. Whether those efforts paid off for the departed we’ll never know, but the collective commitment to postmortal futurity did not prevent the Egyptians from maintaining a powerful, 3,000-year, multidynastic empire. And what they so carefully preserved has been a boon for modern scholars, museums and art lovers, as well as grave robbers and antiquities dealers...."

 

MUMMY SCIENCE CALIFORNIA:

Ancient crocodile mummies from Egypt scanned at Stanford (scopeblog.stanford.edu)

"Conservators at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum at UC Berkeley are in the midst of reviewing CT images of a pair of crocodile mummies, which were scanned at Stanford last week. The crocodiles, a wrapped mummy with a painted mask and an unwrapped mummy with a pack of offspring on its back, are part of a larger museum collection of Egyptian objects excavated in the early 1900s that will be on exhibit next month....  The initial scans offered some new insights, but, overall, the images generated more questions than answers. With respect to the wrapped mummy, Allison Lewis, a Kress Conservation Fellow at the museum, says: "We could immediately see that there is an intact crocodile skull in the mask, but that the body section contains a disorganized jumble of bones and bone fragments, at least some of which appear to be crocodilian. Sorting out the mass of bones remains to be done. We hope to be able to tell if more than one crocodile was incorporated into the mummy, since a very crocodile-esque mandible fragment suggests the presence of at least one more, and if other animal remains are present." The same technology used to image the crocodile mummies was also used last August to scan a 2,500 year-old mummy priest, which is currently on display at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco...."

--Link to the scans

 

EXHIBIT CHICAGO:

'Mammoths and mastodons' at Field Museum features well-preserved baby mammoth that lived 42,000 years ago (chicagotribune.com)

"Lyuba, the baby wooly mammoth that goes on display this week at the Field Museum, was preserved almost perfectly intact right down to her baby fat for 42,000 years in frigid Siberian river muck. Now released from her icy grave, she is being preserved in much the same manner as another famous Russian relic, the body of Communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin. It is a process called desiccation, removing all moisture from the body tissues. Only Lyuba's hair and toenails were missing when Siberian reindeer herders found her carcass in May, 2007, washed out from the frozen permafrost along Yuribey River in Siberia. Since then, her body, tiny tusks, internal organs and even the content of her stomach have been a wellspring of new scientific insight into mammoths and life in the ice ages. The museum has designed a vast temporary exhibit called "Mammoths and Mastadons: Titans of the Ice Age," which uses Lyuba as the centerpiece. She was featured last year by the National Geographic Society on television and in its magazine. A healthy infant that appears to have died in an accident, she is being leased by Russia to the museum for the exhibit, which begins Friday and runs through September 6...."

 

February 2010

MUMMY SCIENCE MASSACHUSETTS:

Berkshire Museum mummy undergoes second CT-scan to reveal how Egyptians took care of their dead (wggb.com)

"When the Berkshire Museum opened in the early 20th century, an Egyptian mummy was one of it's first acquisitions.  That mummy is showing experts how Egyptians took care of their dead. On Wednesday, the mummy, named Pahat, was taken to the Berkshire Medical Center to undergo his second CT scan.  The first one took place in 2007.  It was a low res scan with a 16 slice scanner.  But the hospital now has a 64 slice scanner.  "We can get it acquired in thinner sections," said John Gable, the Cat scan supervisor, "which allows us to do the 3D reconstructions.  Dr. Jonathan Elias, the director of the Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium, was on hand to oversee the project once again.  He's studied about 20 mummies from this time period and he says Pahat's age, relative to that period, is something that stands out. "Pahat was an old man," said Elias. "He might have been say between 55 and 62.  That is old.  He's a survivor if he made it to that age in ancient Egypt in his day which was around 200 BC."  Elias says these new scans will show us how Egyptians took care of their dead.... "

 

EXHIBIT CALIFORNIA:

'Mummies of the World' to start its three-year US tour at LA's California Science Center (latimes.com)

"Mummies of the World," a new traveling exhibition featuring more than 150 preserved objects, will kick off its U.S. tour in Los Angeles at the California Science Center. The show is scheduled to open July 1. Organizers of the show said the collection includes ancient mummies and artifacts from Asia, Oceania, South America and Europe -- as well as ancient Egypt. In addition, the exhibition features both accidental mummies -- those that were preserved via natural events such as ice -- and those that were intentionally preserved. The display will include a gallery devoted to Egyptian antiquity containing specimens that date as far back as 6,500 BC. The show will also contain the Capuchin monk mummies, which are on loan from the Museum of The Catacombs of Palermo, Italy. The exhibition is scheduled to travel to science centers and museums throughout the U.S. for a three-year tour...."

--More information about the exhibit

 

MUMMY SCIENCE DNA RESULTS:

New study discovers occupational hazard for Egyptian priests: hardening of the arteries (aolnews.com)

"Being a priest in ancient Egypt had its benefits, but it didn't protect you from what today is widely considered a strictly modern disease: blocked arteries. One of the duties a priest was expected to perform three times a day was to present the gods with a lavish banquet. The offerings were high in saturated fat: goose meat, beef, cakes made with animal fat, and bread loaded with fat and eggs. The priests also offered up large quantities of alcohol. After the rituals, the priests and other temple personnel were rewarded by dividing up the food and taking it home with them. According to temple inscriptions, some "unscrupulous priests" even took the food home without first offering it to the gods. As a result, British researchers say, priests and their families were particularly prone to developing atherosclerosis, according to a paper published in The Lancet, a leading British medical journal. From hieroglyphic inscriptions on temple walls, the researchers were able to determine what high-fat foods the priestly caste ate. By contrast, ordinary Egyptians were more likely to consume a mainly vegetarian diet. The study drew on an examination of 22 mummies of priestly Egyptians undertaken last year by American cardiologists Michael I. Miyamoto and Gregory Thomas. They found that of the 16 whose hearts and arteries could be identified by CAT scans, nine had hardened arteries. Information identifying the mummies' social status, plus names and titles, was obtained from inscriptions on their coffins...."

 

KING TUT DNA RESULTS:

The cause of his death was a combination of a broken leg and malaria (guardian.co.uk)

"Egypt's famed King Tutankhamun suffered from a cleft palate and club foot, likely forcing him to walk with a cane, and died from complications from a broken leg exacerbated by malaria, according to the most extensive study ever of his mummy. The findings were from two years of DNA testing and CT scans on 16 mummies, including those of Tutankhamun and his family, the team that carried out the study said in an article to be published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It also established the clearest yet family tree for Tut. The study said his father was most likely Akhenaten, the pharaoh who tried to revolutionize ancient Egyptian religion to worship one god — while his mother was a still unidentified sister of Akhenaten. Tut, who became pharaoh at the age of 10 in 1333 B.C., ruled for just nine years at a pivotal time in Egypt's history. While a comparatively minor king, the 1922 discovery of his tomb filled with stunning artifacts, including the famed golden funeral mask, made him known the world over. Speculation had long swirled over why the boy king died at such a young age. A hole in his skull long fueled speculation he was murdered, until a 2005 CAT scan ruled that out, finding the hole was likely from the mummification process. The scan also uncovered the broken leg. The newest CAT scans and DNA tests revealed a pharaoh weakened by congenital illnesses finally done in by complications from the broken leg aggravated by severe brain malaria. The team said it isolated DNA of the malaria parasite — the oldest such discovery...." 

--What would Howard Carter think about modern technology and DNA analysis? (google.com)

"On November 26 1922, the British Egyptologist Howard Carter peered through a tiny hole into the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings. "I see wonderful things," he gasped as he glimpsed a profusion of gold and ebony, hidden for more than 30 centuries. The mummy, the gorgeous funeral mask, coffin and artifacts that accompanied the boy king into the afterlife yielded an extraordinary insight into the long-lost world of the pharaohs.  Yet what would Carter have said about computerized tomography (CT) scanners and genomics? That without even laying a finger on the precious relic, archaeologists could get a 3D image of Tutankhamun's remains? That a tiny sample of preserved tissue could shed light on the monarch's lineage and help explain the mystery of his demise? In a major investigation into Tutankhamun published on Tuesday, Egyptian scientist Zahi Hawass and others used genetic fingerprinting to build a family tree thanks to DNA variations handed from generation to generation...."

--Most important finding from DNA analysis: Tut's daddy (daytondailynews.com)

"In the world of Egyptologists, King Tut is Entertainment Tonight, Inside Editon and People magazine news: bejeweled, fascinating and glitzy. Tut’s popularity is the reason recent reports of a Journal of the American Medical Association article about DNA tests and CT Scans on Tut’s mummy and others focused on the boy king’s physical problems: a possible club foot, fractured leg, evidence of malaria, and the conclusion that a hole in his skull was the result of embalming, not murder. Although removal of Tut from the cold case files was a significant finding, Darlene Brooks Hedstrom, associate professor of history at Wittenberg University, says the article’s real revelation was its answer to the question many have asked Tut’s golden mask over the years: Who’s your daddy? “The more astounding claim is that we have the body of Akhentaten,” Brooks Hedstrom said. A pivotal and controversial figure in Egyptian history, “His mummy’s been missing for all these years,” she said. While pharoh at the height of his nation’s power, Akhentaten “radically changes everything Egypt has known,” she said. Perhaps most significantly, “he puts forth a form of monotheism” never seen before his time and rejected afterwards. The notion that Tut was his son may heighten the importance of the rejection of Akhenaten seen in Tut’s name. Earlier called Tutankhaten — the Aten taken from the name of the one god his father elevated — the boy king later changes his name to Tutankhamun, a reference to a god of the earlier order...."

 

MUMMY SCIENCE MARYLAND: 

The mummies of Burke and Hare? (thesun.co.uk)

"A grisly crime wave struck fear into the heart of the nation almost 200 years ago. Furious Scots rioted in Glasgow and Edinburgh and burned down a medical school in Aberdeen because of the shocking rise in body-snatching. Serial killers Burke and Hare were convicted of murdering 16 people - and selling their corpses to medics for dissection. Now a US expert is coming to Scotland to discover the truth about a collection of MUMMIES bought by the University of Maryland around the time the evil duo were carrying out their slaughter. Ronn Wade, director of the uni's anatomical services division, said: "We don't know where the bodies came from exactly - but it was almost certainly done under cloak and dagger." The mummies have been preserved in arsenic, salt and honey and the unique specimens have been used by thousands of US medical students. Yet Ronn is unsure how exactly the mummies, which once had 500 separate parts, were collected...."

MUMMY SCIENCE COLORADO: 

Mesa State College plans body farm...against neighbors' wishes (gjsentinel.com)

"Mesa State College intends to place human corpses for scientific study on college-owned property in Pear Park, one of the fastest-growing residential areas in the Grand Valley, The Daily Sentinel has learned. A body farm, the nickname for a forensic anthropology center, will be within a 154-acre tract owned by the college’s Real Estate Foundation at the northwest corner of 29 Road and Riverside Parkway. The Sentinel first reported two weeks ago that the college was pursuing the creation of the fifth body farm in the United States, which would allow forensic and criminal justice students and professionals to study how bodies donated to science decompose. At that time, however, college officials declined to say where they planned to establish the operation. John Redifer, head of the Mesa State Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, confirmed Wednesday the college plans to temporarily locate the body farm within a fenced-in area on the foundation’s property. Pear Park residents who have heard rumors for weeks or months that the body farm would be built in their neighborhood say the location is inappropriate, given its proximity to homes...."

 

EXHIBIT KENTUCKY: 

New King Tut exhibit opens in Louisville (courier-journal.com)

"A King Tut exhibit featuring primarily reproduced Egyptian artifacts is booked for March 9 to Aug. 29 at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage in western Louisville, a showing that the center hopes will generate both badly needed revenue and exposure. “It will let people know we are here,” said Rita Phillips, interim operations manager for the center, which has been in the planning stages for more than a decade and is finally approaching reality. The traveling exhibit will be the first effort of the center, which has developed in fits and starts and has had to overcome financial problems. The major renovation of the old trolley barn complex on Muhammad Ali Boulevard in the Russell neighborhood is finally finished. The city recently gave the key to the property to the foundation that sponsors the heritage center...."

 

MUMMY SCIENCE GREENLAND: 

Preserved hairball in Artic permafrost used to create first ancient human genome (nationalgeographic.com)

"A 4,000-year-old hairball found frozen in Greenland has been used to create the first ancient-human genome, says a new study that paints a picture of a dark-eyed man with dry ear wax who was prone to balding. Well preserved in Arctic permafrost, the hair belonged to "Inuk," a relatively young member of the now extinct Saqqaq culture, the earliest known inhabitants of Greenland. The Saqqaq have long presented a puzzle to scientists, according to study co-author Eske Willerslev, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. "Various theories have suggested that they were direct ancestors to the Inuit, or that they were actually Native Americans who penetrated into the High Arctic," Willerslev said. But little has been known about the Saqqaq's genetic history, since archaeological sites have yielded only a few small bits of preserved bone and hair. The new DNA evidence, presented online today by the journal Nature, shows that Inuk's closest relatives are not the ancestors of today's Native Americans and Inuits, but three Arctic peoples of the Siberian Far East: the Nganasans, Koryaks, and Chukchis...."

 

DISCOVERY RUSSIA: 

Body of mummified woman found in Moscow apartment (newsfromrussia.com)

"A mummified body of a woman was found in the east of Moscow. The body of the woman, aged 70, remained in her apartment for four months, a source at the Moscow law-enforcement agencies said. “The mummified body of an elderly woman was found in her apartment on Marshall Rokossovsky Street. The woman had been dead for more than four months,” the source said. It is not the first time when the police find mummified bodies in apartments. Dwellers of an apartment building in the city of Tula, central Russia, were horrified to learn of a discovery made in one of the apartments in 2007. The mummified body of a tenant was found in a sitting position in the kitchen of his apartment. The male had been dead for six years, Pravda.Ru reports...."

 

January 2010

BURIAL VIETNAM: 

Mummy of ancient king reburied after accidental discovery (google.com)

"The mummified corpse of a Vietnamese king who died hundreds of years ago was reburied on Monday, half a century after farmers accidentally dug it up. State television showed a red cloth, decorated with dragons, being draped over the coffin at the Vietnam Museum of History in Hanoi, where the body of King Le Du Tong had been preserved for decades. Dark-suited officials held incense around the coffin, which weighed 700 kilograms (1,540 pounds), television showed. More than 20 royal robes were buried with the king. "This event made us very glad," said Le Van Duat, a representative of the Le clan. "It met the aspiration of several generations of the Le family. It also reflected the aspiration of the Vietnamese people." Farmers accidentally uncovered the king's coffin when they were digging a field in 1958, according to the Vietnam News. They found an "outer coffin" and when they broke a corner of it, they saw a red-lacquer inner coffin trimmed with gold, the report said. After the museum ceremony a procession of at least 100 vehicles escorted the body of the king, who died in 1731, south to Thanh Hoa province for the reburial, said a witness who declined to be identified...."

 

STRANGE CALIFORNIA: 

Daughter of mummified woman runs for city council in Piedmont (sfgate.com)

"Nancy "Sunny" Bostrom, whom police briefly labeled a "person of interest" last year after her mother's mummified corpse was found seated in the living room of her Piedmont home, is running for City Council in the East Bay town. Bostrom came to the cops' attention in February when the body of Patricia Bostrom, who had not been seen by neighbors for six years, was found in a chair in her unlocked, two-story house at Highland and Blair avenues. Police suspect that Patricia Bostrom, who was about 82 when she was last heard from, had been dead for years. An autopsy concluded she had died of natural causes, however, and the only crime cops came up with was the moving of a dead body. And, "we could never prove Nancy did it because she denied her mother was even dead to begin with," police Capt. John Hunt said...."

 

MUMMY SCIENCE CONNECTICUT: 

Researchers hope prized Barnum Museum mummy will tell tales (journalinquirer.com)

"Researchers are using the latest imaging technology on an Egyptian mummy to try to unlock secrets of the ancient world, including whether a mysterious packet inside her was an offering to the gods to help secure a place in the afterlife. The high-resolution testing today at Quinnipiac University also may determine the age at which the woman died and whether she gave birth, researchers say. “It really is going to give us a fantastic view of this mummy,” said Ronald Beckett, co-director of the Bioanthropology Research Institute at Quinnipiac. “Every mummy has a story to tell. Every piece of information adds to our understanding of the ancient Egyptians.” The mummy, known as Pa-Ib and believed to be about 4,000 years old, has been in the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport since the 1890s and was a prized exhibit of the flamboyant showman P. T. Barnum. It was to be transported today in a coffin complete with a police escort from the museum to the university’s campus in North Haven. A CT scanner will take images that are eight times the resolution of tests done on the mummy in 2006, and a tiny camera will be inserted inside the mummy...."

--Though final results not expected until March, researchers find no evidence of bird mummy packed inside Pa-lb (news.yahoo.com)

"Researchers who examined an Egyptian mummy with the latest imaging technology found no evidence that a packet inside her was an offering to the gods of the ancient world. Previous tests led to speculation that the packet was a bird mummy — something researchers said would be an unusual and exciting find — but high-resolution tests Thursday at Quinnipiac University showed no remnants of a bird. Instead, researchers said the packet and a few others in the mummy likely contained organs, which were sometimes preserved and placed back in mummies for use in the afterlife. The mummy, known as Pa-Ib and believed to be about 4,000 years old, has been in the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport since the 1890s and was a prized exhibit of the flamboyant showman P. T. Barnum. A CT scanner took thousands of images that are eight times the resolution of tests done in 2006, and a tiny camera was inserted inside the mummy's skull. Researchers expect to report their conclusions in March. Researchers said her teeth were worn, suggesting the diet of a commoner. The woman could have been a servant but probably didn't do a lot of manual labor, given the condition of her joints, said Gerald Conlogue, co-director of the Bioanthropology Research Institute at Quinnipiac...."

 

STRANGE UK: 

UK's Channel 4 seeks terminally ill patient willing to be mummified (bbc.co.uk)

"A terminally ill patient is being sought to donate their body to be mummified for a Channel 4 TV show. The programme will explore the mysteries of ancient Egyptian embalming, which was believed would help people reach the afterlife. Adverts have been placed asking for dying patients interested in participating to get in touch. Channel 4 said: "If the scientists are able to find a donor, we would be willing to follow the process." It is understood the project - which has been proposed by production company Fulcrum TV - is in its very early stages and may not actually be made. The idea was uncovered when an executive producer from Fulcrum TV, Richard Belfield, spoke to an undercover journalist posing as a possible volunteer...."

 

MUSEUM MEXICO: 

Guanajuato's famous museum mixes mummies and torture devices (washingtonpost.com)

"The most disturbing thing about visiting the Mummy Museum in Guanajuato, Mexico, isn't the mummies themselves. After three visits over 10 years, I've grown accustomed to the mummies -- more than 100 of them, many staring back (dare I say helplessly?) from behind glass display cases, some upright, some lying down. Nope, it's the torture instruments that make me queasy. El Museo de las Momias, surely one of the most bizarre cultural institutions anywhere, underscores Mexico's obsession with death. Every day is a Day of the Dead celebration in this popular, well-maintained museum, a short bus or cab ride from the leafy main square of Guanajuato, a town also known for its pottery, colonial charm and nearby silver mines. The torture gadgets are displayed alongside several cadavers to illustrate, I can only suppose, that death comes in many ways. One mummy has metal spikes jammed into every part of his body.... The museum traces its roots to the 19th century, when cemetery space was at a premium in hilly Guanajuato, so relatives were charged an annual tax to keep their loved ones buried. Some folks couldn't afford the tax, and their loved ones were exhumed -- or so the legend goes. That's how workers at the main cemetery discovered that the dry mountain air and mineral content of the soil had mummified some of the corpses. Beginning in 1870, the mummies were placed in a room near the cemetery's administrative offices, according to www.guanajuatocapital.com, a privately owned tourism Web site. Foreign visitors discovered the mummies around 1894, and a museum followed...."

--An exhibit of Guanajuato mummies is touring the United States. More Information.

 

DISCOVERY EGYPT: 

Archaeologists discover huge tomb near Cairo complete with mummified eagles (bbc.co.uk)

"Archaeologists in Egypt have said they have discovered the largest known tomb in the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, to the south of Cairo. The tomb dates back 2,500 years to the 26th Dynasty and contains important artifacts, including mummified eagles. It is one of two newly discovered tombs found by an Egyptian team working close to the entrance of Saqqara, the burial ground for Egypt's ancient capital. The tomb consists of a big hall hewn out of the limestone rock. There are a number of small rooms and passageways where ancient coffins, skeletons and well-preserved clay pots were discovered, as well as the mummies of eagles. Egypt's chief archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, who announced the discovery, said that early investigations showed that although the tomb dated back to the 26th Dynasty, it had been used several times...."

--Photos of the tomb (discovery.com)  

 

DISCOVERY VIETNAM: 

Mystery surrounds the naturally-mummified teenager in the attic (vnagency.com.vn)

"In Phu Thanh Commune on the bank of the Mekong in An Giang Province’s Phu Tan District, every villager knows about the mystery surrounding the remains kept in an old wooden house. In the middle of the river basin the exquisite 130-year-old stilt house built of precious wood is blackened with time. It belongs to Dinh Tri, 57. In the attic, there is a coffin placed on two chairs in front of a Buddhist altar. Made of fine wood and topped with glass, the painted coffin has not been eaten by termites and still looks new, after more than 40 years. The coffin contains the remains of Tri’s older brother, Dinh Hao, who died of a mysterious disease at 17. The sight of Hao’s corpse lying in the coffin as if he was sleeping peacefully sends shivers down people’s spine given that he passed away four decades ago. Although the remains have shrunk and dehydrated after many years, his eyes, nose, mouth and ears are still there, and his black hair is still shining. "

 

December 2009

CRIME NORTH CAROLINA: 

Mummified body of mother found in New Hanover house; authorities arrest daughter with concealing death for months (starnewsonline.com)

"New Hanover County sheriff's deputies investigating the death of an 87-year-old woman seized deodorizing powders and spray from the bedroom where the woman's body was found. A search warrant deputies filed this week in the New Hanover County Court clerk's office gives a glimpse into what deputies found when they entered the home at 612 Cherry Laurel Court after the death of Blanche Matilda Roth was reported. Authorities have said Roth had been dead for months and have charged her daughter Amy Blanche Stewart, 47, with concealing the death. In the days following the Dec. 15 search, Stewart was arrested and released on a $1,000 bond pending trial on the felony charge. Authorities have said they're investigating the possibility of fraud related to benefits that Roth was receiving...."

 

DISCOVERY MEXICO: 

37 mummified bodies found during restoration of Zacatecas' Church of Santo Domingo (laht.com)

"Restoration work on a church and a cathedral in the central Mexican city of Zacatecas has resulted in the finding of 37 mummified bodies and a Bible from 1575 written in several languages, authorities said Tuesday. The mummies were found in the Church of Santo Domingo, along with a small stairway leading to a grotto in which the skeleton of a Spanish colonial official was resting, the Zacatecas state government said. Meanwhile, the Bible was found in the bibliographic archive of the Zacatecas Basilica Cathedral. It is written in Hebrew, Chaldean, Greek and Latin, and according to the state government there exist only 100 copies like it in the world. The finds were made during the process of restoration being carried out at both religious locations, a task in which 75 workers are taking part and which is costing a total of 51 million pesos ($4.1 million)...."

 

EXHIBIT SINGAPORE: 

'Quest for Immortality' features 11 mummies from Viennese museum (bloomberg.com)

"Three Egyptian mummies -- well, 11 if you include two newborn children, a falcon, a cat, an ibis, two crocodiles and a scarab beetle with its own little sarcophagus -- have taken a wrong turn. Instead of taking the journey west to the next life, they’ve headed east on a three-country tour of Asia and Australia, ending up in Singapore, where they are the stars of the National Museum’s latest blockbuster exhibition.... “Quest for Immortality -- the World of Ancient Egypt” uses 230 artifacts, from statues to tiny pots of makeup, to try to explain how the ancient Egyptian obsession with death is really an affirmation of life and the desire to continue it. Museums are allowing priceless artifacts to go on traveling exhibitions to earn money, amid pressure from countries such as Egypt and Italy to recover some treasures. Hairani Hassan, curator for the exhibition from the Singapore museum, said the 3 1/2 month event cost nearly S$2 million ($1.4 million) and took two years to prepare.... The exhibition, which visited Seoul and Sydney, is the first time the mummies have travelled from Vienna. In Singapore, the display gallery in the basement is in almost total darkness, with walls and ramps designed to give the feeling of exploring a pyramid or an ancient burial site. Some statues are set back in hidden chambers, visible through cracks in the partitions.... "

 

SCIENCE CANADA: 

Tests on soup can from Franklin Expedition confirm that lead levels were 'off the scale' (physorg.com)

"Lead levels that are "off the scale" have been confirmed after tests were done this morning on the lid of a soup can dating back more than 150 years. The findings reopen the mystery surrounding the cause of death of Sir John Franklin and his doomed crew as they searched for the Northwest Passage. Fiona McNeill, associate vice-president, Research, and a professor of medical science and applied radiation, says tests were conducted using x-ray fluorescence, a non-destructive method of analyzing artifacts. McMaster is one of two centers in Canada with this specific kind of x-ray fluorescence capability. As soon as the four-inch diameter lid from the can was scanned, says McNeill, "the numbers showed us lead levels that were pretty much off the scale. It was an instantaneous test. We had already tested the soup found in the can and found high levels of lead, so we were certain we were going to find similar levels in the sealing solder." Franklin set sail from England in 1845 on his fourth Arctic exploration to map the final section of the Northwest Passage. But something happened when his ships became stuck in ice, and the crew was never heard from again. The loss, considered the biggest disaster in British naval history, triggered numerous search parties. In 1988, bodies of some of the crew were found, preserved in the permafrost. The can of soup being tested was found on Dealy Island, and though it was left behind by a search party dispatched from England in 1852 it would be virtually identical to the provisions consumed by Franklin and his crew. With the lead levels confirmed, McMaster's Department of Anthropology will next make a batch of the ox cheek soup and can it using methods from the 1840s. Over the course of a year the cans will be opened and analyzed. Researchers will then be able to gauge how quickly lead leaches into soup rendering it lethal. Lead poisoning has long been considered a cause of death for the ill-fated explorers...."

--More information about the mummies of the Franklin Expedition at the Mummy Tombs  

 

SCIENCE CANADA: 

New DNA evidence from frozen soil suggests that ancient horses survived in North America longer than thought (horsetalk.co.nz)

"Horses may have survived in North America until 7600 years ago, some 5000 years longer than previously thought. It is possible researchers have unearthed the tiny genetic footprint of the last few hundred ancient horses to roam North America. Researchers who removed ancient DNA of horses and mammoths from permanently frozen soil in central Alaskan permafrost dated the material at between 7600 and 10,500 years old. The findings suggest populations of these now-extinct mammals endured longer in the continental interior of North America, challenging the conventional view that these and other large species disappeared from the continent about 12,000 years ago.... At the end of the Pleistocene, the geological period roughly spanning 12,000 to 2.5 million years ago, many of the world's large animals, such as giant sloths, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, stag-moose, and mammoths, vanish from the geological record. Some large species such as the horse became extinct in North America but persisted in small populations elsewhere, having crossed a land bridge into Asia.... Evidence until now has placed the last-known mammoths and wild horses between 13,000 and 15,000 years ago...."

--Mummified remains of ancient horse on display at Canadian museum (horsetalk.co.nz)  

"The mummified remains of a 26,000-year-old horse found in Canada have gone on display in a museum. An artist's impression of the Yukon Horse, dating back 26,000 years. © Yukon Beringia Interpretive CentreThe horse, discovered in the Yukon, is the best-preserved specimen of a mummified, extinct large mammal ever found in Canada. Miners Sam and Lee Olynyk, and Ron Toews, who were working a claim in the Klondike, found the remains in September 1993. It has since been identified as a horse which once roamed the plains of the area and has been radiocarbon dated at 26,000 years old. The miners contacted the Yukon government about their discovery, which in turn contacted Dick Harington at Ottawa's Canadian Museum of Nature. Scientists in Ottawa began treatment of the hide and soft tissue, analysed the animal's intestinal contents as well as radiocarbon dated a bone sample.... The Yukon horse has become the newest member in an impressive collection of exhibits belonging to the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre.... "

 

EXHIBIT MARYLAND:

'Mummified' exhibit at Walters Art Museum features Mery the mummy (jhunewsletter.com)

"Mummified!, a current exhibit at The Walters Art Museum, is interesting, somewhat educational, and a great weekend venture for anyone looking for a nerdy good time.... Mummified!!, highlights the Walters Museum's very own well-preserved mummy, Mery. It is an exhibit that is at once serious and playful. The first part of the exhibit features a few interesting artifacts and two computer stations that offer information on the processes involved in mummification and the cultural and religious significance of this hallowed ritual. This first section, though, barely holds a candle to the centerpiece of the exhibit: Mery the Mummy. Mery, who is about 4' 9'' tall and lived to be somewhere around 60, can be found in a climate-controlled glass case in the center of the room. She is placed on a "Mummy board" and is wrapped in linen and plaster. This casing is painted with images, in surprisingly vivid colors, of Egyptian gods involved in the processes of death and renewal: Osiris, Anubis, Horace and Hapi. Next to the body one finds four canopic jars, or containers for the departed's vital organs. Some might remember these jars from the modern-day popular movie The Mummy. Along with these jars are several small, ornate amulets that were at one point sewn into Mery's fabric...."

 

EXHIBIT New York:

'The Mummy Chamber', the Brooklyn Museum's new Egyptian exhibit, opens May 5 (artdaily.org)

Part of the exhibit: "Anthropoid Coffin of the Servant of the Great Place", Teti, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, ca. 1339 B.C. - 1307 B.C. Wood, painted, (84.5 x 47.8 x 207 cm) 33 1/4 x 18 13/16 x 81 1/2 inches. Place purchased: Thebes, Egypt, Africa. Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund.

"An installation of more than 170 objects selected from the Brooklyn Museum’s world-famous holdings of ancient Egyptian material explores the complex rituals related to the practice of mummification and the Egyptian belief that the body must be preserved in order to ensure eternal life. The Mummy Chamber will open at the Brooklyn Museum on May 5 and will remain on long-term view. Included in the installation will be a portion of the nearly 26-foot-long papyrus Book of the Dead of Sobekmose, acquired in 1937 and never before on public view, which has undergone more than two years of conservation. Other segments of this extraordinary document, which contains spells to aid the dead in the afterlife, will be added to the gallery installation as they are conserved. Throughout the more than 3,000-year-old papyrus, which contains text on both sides as well as illustrations, Sobekmose’s name recurs frequently, accompanied by the title “Gold-worker of Amun.” The Mummy Chamber provides a look at the Museum’s collection of wrapped human and animal mummies. In addition, containers that physically protected the mummies will demonstrate the history of coffin making for humans and animals in Egypt, along with objects that illustrate the ancient Egyptians’ corporal and supernatural methods for protecting the mummy from harm and for ensuring a pleasant afterlife.... In recent years, several of the human and animal mummies in the Brooklyn Museum have undergone a rigorous scientific testing, including CT scanning at North Shore University Hospital, to determine new information such as the sex, age, and living habits. Some of these findings will be made available in the installation...."

 

SCIENCE EGYPT: 

Study of 3,000 Egyptian mummies reveals dental miseries (msnbc.msn.com)

"Worn teeth, periodontal diseases, abscesses and cavities tormented the ancient Egyptians, according to the first systematic review of all studies performed on Egyptian mummies in the past 30 years. After examining research of more than 3,000 mummies, anatomists and paleopathologists at the University of Zurich concluded that 18 percent of all mummies in case reports showed a nightmare array of dental diseases. "Evidence of dental disorders is plentiful because usually teeth are among the best preserved parts of a body. As for other diseases, the published studies do not always provide in-depth details. Nevertheless, we came across some interesting findings," senior author and medical doctor Frank Ruhli, head of the Swiss Mummy Project at the University of Zurich, told Discovery News. Published in the Journal of Comparative Human Biology (HOMO), the review takes into consideration all studies published since 1977, when computed tomography was first applied to ancient Egyptian mummies. CT imaging revealed an impressive collection of diseases, including bone disorders, infections and traumas being the most common disorders...."

 

SCIENCE PERU: 

Hair from Peruvian mummies shows how stressed they were (discovery.com)

"People in the past were very stressed out, suggests a new study that found high amounts of a stress hormone in the hair of Peruvian individuals who lived between 550 A.D. and 1532. The study, accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science, is the first to detect the stress hormone cortisol in ancient hair. Cortisol is produced in response to real and perceived threats. After its release, the hormone travels to nearly every part of the body, including to blood, saliva, urine and hair. It now may be possible to determine not only how ancient people behaved, but also how they felt. "Combined with archaeological reconstructions of past communities and societies, and traditional bioarchaeological approaches to understanding stress, health and well-being, research like this will significantly enrich our ability to reconstruct ancient life histories, and let us explore individualized experiences of people who died hundreds or even thousands of years ago," lead author Emily Webb told Discovery News...."

 

DISCOVERY PENNSYLVANIA: 

Man's mummified remains found in Huntingdon house (post-gazette.com)

"The Westmoreland County coroner's office will conduct an autopsy today for a man whose "mummified" remains were found yesterday in his deceased father's house in North Huntingdon. Kenneth Michael Kaduk, 56, may have been dead for up to six months when his body was discovered on the floor of the home on McKee Road shortly after 2 p.m., Deputy Coroner Dennis Johns said. Police broke into the home through a back window with an attorney for the Kaduk family who was hoping to get information about Mr. Kaduk's father, who died in 2006, Mr. Johns said. Relatives had infrequent contact with Mr. Kaduk and they were unaware that he had been living in the house...."

 

INSPIRATION CANADA: 

Tragedy of mummified baby inspires Toronto composer to write opera (insidetoronto.com)

"Like many, long-time Toronto resident Dean Burry was shocked, disturbed and intrigued by the July 2007 discovery of a mummified baby boy's corpse in the floorboards of a Riverside home. Burry, one of Canada's top composers of operas for children and youth, said he was curious to learn more about the dire circumstances leading someone to hide a dead baby, wrapped in both a blanket and in a copy of the Sept. 15, 1925 Empire and Mail newspaper, in the second-floor ceiling of a Kintyre Avenue home. "I thought it was a creepy story and a very intriguing one," said the father of two. "You never know what goes on behind closed doors. You never know exactly what's going on with your happy neighbours." Always on the lookout for interesting subjects for his work, Burry said he came up with the idea of creating a "Baby Kintyre" radio opera while driving home from the cottage that Labour Day weekend...."

 

November 2009

DISCOVERY CANADA: 

Mummified cat found at Toronto Humane Society (thestar.com)

"Officials leading a media tour of the Toronto Humane Society on Friday said a mummified cat was discovered in a live trap inside the building's drop ceiling. The trapped cat lay on its side, its skin the colour of parchment, covering nothing more than bones and dust. "Very disturbing, you know it sent chills down my spine," said Kevin Strooband, lead investigator with the OSPCA, as he described the find at the Toronto Humane Society shortly after 2 p.m. The discovery of the caged cat – inside a second floor ceiling at the River St. and Queen St. E. facility – delayed a scheduled media tour, but it was then put on display in a hallway of the building. The animal was inside what is called a live trap, used to capture animals by luring them with food into a cage with a door that closes automatically. "This is a humane trap, there is nothing is wrong with it," said Strooband. Once it is trapped you take the cat down and put it in another cage that is more secure, he said. "That obviously didn't happen." Strooband said they did not know how long the animal had been in the ceiling. The tour came a day after the society's president and four other people were arrested on animal cruelty charges after police raided the facility...."

--Cat likely a trapped stray (torontosun.com)

"A mummified cat found in a cage in the ceiling at the Toronto Humane Society's shelter was likely one of several strays staff routinely trapped, the charity's chief communications officer told the Sun. Ian McConachie, who has been barred from the River St. shelter during an Ontario Society for the Prevention of Animals investigation, said traps were set for feral cats that slipped inside from the Don River area at the rear of the building...." 

 

EXHIBIT NEW YORK: 

Albany museum expanding exhibit with new mummies (cbs6albany.com)

"An Albany museum is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the arrival of a pair of mummies from Egypt. Samuel Brown was a member of the Albany Institute of History and Art's board of directors when he purchased the mummies while traveling through Cairo in 1909. In recent years, researchers have used the latest technology to study the mummies, believed to be about 3,000 years old. Scientists have been able to determine the sex and approximate ages of the mummies along with gaining insights into the mummification process.On Sunday, the Albany Institute will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the mummies' arrival with new additions to the museum's Ancient Egypt exhibit, along with lectures and hands-on activities for children...."

 

DISCOVERY ITALY:

Galileo’s missing, mummified fingers (and a tooth) found (msnbc.msn.com)

"A finger of Galileo (one of three removed upon his death) is currently exhibited at the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di FirenzeTwo fingers and a tooth removed from Galileo Galilei's corpse in a Florentine basilica in the 18th century and given up for lost have been found again and will soon be put on display, an Italian museum director said Friday. Three fingers, a vertebra and a tooth were removed from the astronomer's body by admirers in 1737, 95 years after his death, as his corpse was being moved from a storage place to a monumental tomb — opposite that of Michelangelo, in Santa Croce Basilica in Florence. One of the fingers was recovered soon afterward and is now part of the collection of the Museum of the History of Science, in Florence. The vertebra has been kept at the University of Padua, where Galileo taught for years. But the tooth and two fingers from the scientist's right hand — the thumb and middle finger — were kept by one of the admirers, an Italian marquis, and later enclosed in a container that was passed on from generation to generation in the same family, Paolo Galluzzi, the museum's director, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview."

 

REPATRIATION EUROPE:

Te Papa officials arrive in Europe to collect Maori remains held in museums (stuff.co.nz)

"A team of Te Papa officials has arrived in Europe to collect ancestral Maori remains for repatriation. The remains of 33 Maori from the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, Sweden's Gothenburg Natural History Museum and Museum of World Culture, Glasgow University's Hunterian Museum in Scotland, and Trinity College in the Republic of Ireland will be returned to New Zealand later this month.  First stop was Cardiff where the skeletal remains of 12 Maori which had been part of the Welsh national collection, were handed to the Te Papa team overnight. The skeleton of a woman and bones of 11 other people were originally taken from Great Mercury Island, off Coromandel Peninsula.  They were discovered in the museum's storage 80 years ago.... Since 2004, the New Zealand authority which negotiates the return of Maori ancestral remains has repatriated bones from eight countries - bringing home 149 koiwi tangata (skeletal remains) and Toi moko (mummified tattooed heads)...."

 

DISCOVERY TEXAS: 

Mummified baby found in Houston apartment (kvue.com)

"A mummified baby was found in a northwest Houston apartment late Wednesday night, and investigators are working to determine how the baby died. Police said a relative of the baby made the discovery at the mother’s apartment on Sherwood and called 911. The baby was reportedly wrapped in a blanket...." 

 

SCIENCE EGYPT: 

Egyptian mummies show signs of heart disease (latimes.com)

"CT scans of Egyptian mummies, some as much as 3,500 years old, show evidence of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which is normally thought of as a disease caused by modern lifestyles, researchers said Tuesday. The study, presented at the American Heart Assn. meeting in Orlando, Fla., was conceived by Dr. Gregory Thomas, a cardiologist at UC Irvine, after he read about Pharoah Merenptah at the Egyptian National Museum of Antiquities in Cairo. When he died at age 60 in 1203 BC, Merenptah was plagued by atherosclerosis, arthritis and dental decay. Thomas reasoned that some evidence of the atherosclerosis -- which is characterized by calcium in plaques -- might still be present. He organized a team of cardiologists and Egyptologists who scanned a series of 20 mummies in the museum during a week in February. Among the 16 mummies whose arteries or hearts could be identified, nine had calcification clearly seen in the arteries or in the path where the arteries should have been...."

DISCOVERY WEST VIRGINIA: 

Mummified remains Found In Huntington

"Huntington Police are unsure if a mummified body found in a home this week is that of the home's owner. "According to the neighbors, the man who owned the property lived by himself and was something of a loner.  He didn't have any family that they were aware of," said Captain Rick Eplin. "It's quite possible that the body that we found is the property owner who wasn't missed or wasn't reported missing." Officers discovered the remains Wednesday when they were called to the house at 806 24th Street . A neighbor reported somebody was attempting to break into the house.  Police found evidence of a break-in and entered the home to see if the suspect had gotten into the home. It wasn't clear if that had happened, but that's when officers noticed the body, lying in the kitchen floor. "It was a very dirty, disheveled residence," said Eplin. "Not what you would expect.  It wasn't a neat, organized home by any means." Eplin says they aren't sure if the body is that of the owner.  They have transferred the remains to the state Medical Examiner's office to determine the identity and cause of death.    Eplin said the man's whereabouts had become something of an urban legend in the neighborhood...."

 

EXHIBIT KING TUT: 

King Tut's tomb set for 5-year renovation project (ap.com)

"Egypt's famous Tomb of Tutankhamun will undergo a five-year project to clean and restore the lavish wall paintings in the underground chambers of the boy king whose golden mask and artifacts have long awed the world. The project to restore the country's most famous tomb is the latest collaboration between Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Los Angeles-based Getty Conservation Institute, which in the past restored nearby tombs and designed airtight cases to display Egypt's mummies. Since the small, four-roomed tomb and its famous golden burial mask were discovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter, observers have noted strange brown spots marring the wall paintings. "I always see the tomb of King Tut and wonder about those spots, which no scientist has been able to explain," said Zahi Hawass, the head of the SCA, in a statement. "Now I am happy that the Getty will look at the tomb and preserve its beautiful scenes," he added. Thousands of tourists visit the underground chambers in the Valley of the Kings every month, bringing heat and humidity, which damage the more than 3,000-year-old tomb...."

 

SCIENCE CALIFORNIA: 

CT scan reveals mummy displayed at Bakersfield museum was a woman (bakersfield.com)

"It's a girl! But this is no baby. She is a 2,400-year-old mummy that had been on display at Cal State Bakersfield and was put through a CT scan Monday at Quest Imaging. The mummy was originally thought to be male because a man's name was written on the coffin, but it was common practice to re-use coffins, so it wasn't surprising to learn it was a female. The scan was done to learn about the person who had been mummified, including the person's age, sex, lifestyle and possibly cause of death, said Lorenzo Michaels, operations manager at Quest Imaging. The mummy, in a wooden crate, was taken to Quest in a van. Screws were removed from the crate. The mummy was transferred to a gurney, using a board to safely move it in preparation for the scan. The scan itself only took about 25 seconds -- and the interpretation of the scan followed. Robert M. Yohe, a professor at CSUB who holds a doctorate degree in anthropology, said the woman was probably middle-aged, as evidenced by arthritic changes in the vertebrae. Based on the way the body was wrapped, she was likely from the middle class...."

 

EXHIBIT CALIFORNIA: 

Bowers Museum will exhibit Silk Road mummies From China (prnewswire.com)

"One of the most important archaeological finds -- and certainly one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century -- are the hundreds of well-preserved mummies that have been found buried in the parched sands of the Tarim Basin in the Far Western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. The reason these mummies are so historically important and have created such a controversy is their high degree of preservation, which has allowed scientists to see far more detail than would normally be expected in a burial site. These mummies are not, for the most part, Asian-looking, but rather light skinned, round eyed, long nosed, red or blond haired men, women and children. The material buried with them, as well as their perfectly-preserved clothing, bears a striking resemblance to mummies found in Siberia to the North, Persia to the West, and Europe. What is even more surprising is that these mummies span a period of more than 3,000 years, providing a glimpse into the ancient Silk Road traders. On March 27, 2010, these mummies will be seen for the first time outside of Asia at The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California in an exhibition entitled "Secrets of the Silk Road: Mystery Mummies of China." Following its closing July 25, 2010, it will move to the Houston Museum of Natural Science from August 28, 2010 to January 2, 2011, and then to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology from February 5, 2011 to June 5, 2011.... The exhibition features more than 150 objects, many predating the Silk Road by more than 1,500 years. The objects have been drawn from the collections of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum and the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology in Urumqi..."

--More information about the Silk Road mummies at the Mummy Tombs

 

DISCOVERY PERU: 

Mummified young priestess dating from 300-450 AD found in elite Nasca tomb (enperublog.com)

"Paying for a guardian out of his own pocket for 27 years turned out to be worth it for the Italian archaeologists Giuseppe Orefici, director of the Nasca Project. Not reimbursed by his supervisors in Italy nor (shamefully but all too predictably) by the Peruvian state, it is thanks to the Italian’s dedication at the heavily tomb-raided ceremonial city of Cahuachi, a expansive adobe city of countless buried pyramids, that a recent discovery was able to be made. Discovered in a recent dig was the mummy of a young priestess, a member of the elite, with several precious items dating from the period of 300-450A.D., the most important period at what, if unburied, is said to be the world’s largest adobe city. According to Orefici, the girl must have been important. She would have been between 12 and 14 at her time of death and was found inside a series of rooms between the Great Pyramid and what is known as the Orange Pyramid. The building would have formed a small temple that had 4 columns holding up its roof. The archaeologists had to remove a layer or reeds and ropes that covered the burial. The body appeared to have been painted and found with an additional vertebra added. She also had slightly deformed forearms, apparently something self-inflicted by having the arms extended vertically for long periods of time – perhaps as a result of a praying. She was wrapped in finely woven fabric that had patterns of orcas (killer whales) found in the southern pacific and contained obsidian arrow heads...."

 

 

 

 

 

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