13 Facts About Mummies

Mummies are a popular part of our modern Halloween celebrations. Though enshrouded in mystery, they have been among us for millinnea. These thirteen intriguing mummy facts are sure to entertain kids of all ages this Halloween season.

  1. According to Egyptologist Salima Ikram, the word mummy comes from the Arabic word for bitumen: mumya. Arabs who saw the blackened appearance of the mummies thought that the remains were covered with a layer of dark bitumen, and named them accordingly. Over time, the word mumya evolved into the name we recognize today: mummy.
  2. The ancient Egyptians began to mummify their dead as early as 2500 B.C., but the Chinchorros of South America did it first. Chinchorro mummies were created as early as 5000 B.C.
  3. The Egyptians believed that the dead could still enjoy earthly pleasures. For this reason, many mummies were entombed with treasures, food, and even loyal pets and servants to tend them in the afterlife.
  4. Anubis, the jackal-headed god of Egypt, was believed to have invented embalming.
  5. All of a mummy's major internal organs were removed and placed in Canopic jars - except for the heart, which was thought to be the center of intelligence.
  6. In ancient times, up to seventy days could pass between an individual's death and their entombment. Forty days was the average amount of time necessary for the dehydration and embalming of a human body.
  7. Not all mummies were human. Archaeologists have discovered the mummified remains of jackals, cats, baboons, horses, and even a lion!
  8. Unwrapping mummies was a popular, if distasteful, pastime in the Victorian era. Hosts would purchase a mummy for the sole purpose of unwrapping, then throw parties at which the unwrapping served as the evening's entertainment.
  9. Countless mummies were also ground into medicinal powders, or even burned as firewood in areas of Egypt where trees were scarce.
  10. When conditions are right, natural mummies are created through a combination of dryness and extreme temperatures. Both natural and artificial mummies have been found in locations as varied as South America, the Swiss Alps, Central Asia, and Alaska.
  11. King Tut's tomb was discovered in 1923. Lord Carnarvon, who financed the expedition, died of an infected mosquito bite and pneumonia within weeks of entering Tut's burial chamber. This event is believed to have inspired legends of vengeful mummies and cursed tombs.
  12. The movies The Mummy and The Mummy Returns , both from Universal Studios, boast combined domestic box-office earnings of $357,405,273.00, according to Hollywood.Com.
  13. Experts believe that they have recently identified the mummy of Hatshepsut, one of the most famous female pharaohs.

author: Janna Weiss

- Susan K. Lewis, "The Afterlife: An Interview with Salima Ikram". Nova Online.
- James M. Deem, "Chinchorro Mummies". The Mummy Tombs.
- Hollywood.Com Staff, Hollywood.Com's Top 25 Highest Grossing Domestic Horror Films of All Time". Hollywood.Com.
- Jonathan Wright, "Egyptologists Think They Have Hatshepsut's Mummy". ABC News.

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