Welcome to the Mummy Blog!

Why mummies? What can we learn about ancient people from well-preserved human remains? Why should we care? Come explore the world of mummies and all their spin-offs (museum exhibits, movies, books....)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Introducing The Mummy Blog

Was it a boy or a girl? How old? Who were his or her parents? What did he or she eat? How did the person live and die in Roman Egypt? These are only a few of the questions you can ask about an Egyptian mummy.

My name is Sarah Wisseman. I am a mummy enthusiast, archaeologist, and mystery writer. Since my colleagues and I have just CT-scanned our Egyptian mummy at the University of Illinois for the second time (after a twenty year gap), I've decided to start a blog that brings together all my interests together in one place.

A mummy is inherently interesting and mysterious since it contains secrets about a person's life and death inside its wrappings. Although Egyptian mummies are the most familiar, there are also Chinchorro mummies in Chile, Peruvian Ice Maidens, the Diva Mummy ("Lady Dai") in China, bog bodies (Denmark and Germany), Canary Island mummies, and many more.

The study of mummies seduces anthropologists and museum curators, but also paleopathologists, dentists, physicians, biochemists, textile scientists, and entomologists. When we are allowed to take samples from ancient bodies, we can learn about DNA, diet, disease, tissue preservation, ritual burial, and religious practices. Although the body is important to science because of what it can reveal about ancient health and disease, the materials used, the decorations and symbols on the wrappings, the burial position, and the accompanying artifacts can teach us so much about lifestyle and belief systems.

And the fascination for mummies can take you strange places--in my case, all the unanswered questions about our mummy made me write a mystery novel, Bound for Eternity. A museum curator discovers that an Egyptian mummy holds the clues to two murders in her Boston museum...a story that continues in several other books and short stories: www.sarahwisseman.com

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