MILWAUKEE - You probably think 'Egypt' when you hear "mummy," but the 'Mummies Of The World' exhibit opening Friday at the Milwaukee Public Museum started with an unexpected discovery in Germany.
"My colleague accidentally found about 20 mummies in the basement of the Reiss-Engelhorn Museum," said researcher Heather Gill-Frerking.
Gill-Frerking used a CT scanner to date them, determine genders and look under the wrapping. The mummies were misplaced decades ago.
"They were considered lost," she told TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray. "We had some documentation that suggested they should exist, but they were thought to be lost during World War II, Mannheim was a heavily bombed area."
Since that first chance museum vault discovery, others gave mummies for this exhibit, including a 17th-century German nobleman buried with his boots on.
"After they were discovered, there was a lot guessing about what is the cause of mummification," said Manfred Baron von Crailsheim, who loaned his mummified ancestors for research and display.
A mummy is a preserved body, animal or human, with skin, muscle or hair still intact. It could be intentional, like the unwrapped body on display of a man who was likely wealthy. Flakes of gold are still visible on his hand.
There is also natural mummification, like a white fish in the exhibit that was found on a beach along the salty Red Sea.
"Any time it's warm and dry or cold and dry or, in the case of bog mummies, if it's wet, but very acidic, we can often get well preserved bodies," Gill-Frerking explained.
This exhibition seeks to shake the stereotype that mummies come only from Egypt. There's an 18th century Hungarian family found in a church vault, a well-preserved South American woman and a Peruvian child believed to be more than 6,000 years old.
"This exhibit is really great because it has brought together mummies from around the world, which is something that's never happened before," said Ellen Censky, the Milwaukee Public Museum's academic dean.
Source from http://www.620wtmj.com
For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.