The mummies have arrived. If you’ve been by the Arizona Science Center recently, you’ve seen the massive banners on the side of the building trumpeting Mummies of the World: The Exhibition, which opens February 10.
This is no small exhibition. It is the largest collection of mummies and related artifacts ever assembled and features 40 real human and animal mummies and 85 rare artifacts from across the globe.
This exhibition, which arrived in Phoenix after touring Europe, may not be what most visitors expect. The humans featured in this exhibition aren’t just the Egyptian mummies most picture when they hear the term “mummies.” These mummies hail from every region of the world including Europe, South America and Ancient Egypt. The exhibit is designed to reveal stories of many ancient people from past cultures and civilizations.
So, what exactly is a mummy? A body that has undergone mummification has its soft tissues, including skin, muscle, internal organs, hair and nails preserved. Typically, these soft tissues decay soon after death, however mummies around the globe have been preserved both by intentional cultural practices as well as climate conditions. Each mummy in this exhibition has its own story to tell.
The Vac Mummies, believed to have died from tuberculosis, were discovered during repair work of a small Hungarian church in 1994. Imagine being the bricklayer who showed up to work, only to discover 265 mummies whose bodies and garments were prevented from rotting by exceptionally dry air for over a century.
Baron Von Holz, a German nobleman, was found tucked away in the family crypt of a 14th century castle wearing his best leather boots after dying in the castle while seeking refuge from the Thirty Years’ War.
There will be an authentic replication of the 2,800-year-old Egyptian mummification process, performed on a man in 1994 using the same tools and methods as described on ancient Egyptian papyrus.
The exhibition will also feature Egyptian priest mummies and Egyptian animal mummies including a cat, falcon, fish, dog and baby crocodile. Many of these animal mummies were deliberately preserved to accompany royals for eternity.
These aren’t your typical Hollywood mummies, so don’t be scared – their wrappings will stay on! For more: azscience.org.