‘Ancient lives, new discoveries’ at the British Museum was one of the few exceptions to my exhibition viewing, which consists almost exclusively of exhibitions in the art field. I had a secret fascination for mummies though, having seen extraordinarily preserved examples in my Bolivia & Peru travels.
Three facts I took away from the British Museum show:
1. The Egyptian intended for mummification had his or her human organs taken out, via an incision in the abdomen; while the brain contents were removed through the nose (yum): an iron hook was inserted into a nostril and pushed until the bone between the nasal and the skull cavities broke.
2. The heart was considered the centre of consciousness and was left in the body, protected with amulets. Other internal organs were removed then separately mummified; while the brain, not considered as important, was discarded.
3. Natural embalming in dry and hot sand may allow better preservation of mummies – see the remarkable mummies in the exhibition: ‘A young man preserved in the sand (Gebelein Man B)’ and ‘A Christian woman from Sudan’
You can learn about eight mummies and see more at this fascinating (scientific but accessible) exhibition at the British Museum until 12 July 2015 (extended twice from 30 November 2014 and 19 April 2015).
A Christian woman from Sudan (http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/ancient_lives.aspx)