Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mummy unwrapping brought Egyptology to the public

Date:
October 29, 2012
Source:
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Summary:
Public “unwrappings” of real mummified human remains performed by both showmen and scientists heightened the fascination, but also helped develop the growing science of Egyptology, says a historian.

Mummies have been objects of horror in popular culture since the early 1800s -- more than a century before Boris Karloff portrayed an ancient Egyptian searching for his lost love in the 1932 film "The Mummy." Public "unwrappings" of real mummified human remains performed by both showmen and scientists heightened the fascination, but also helped develop the growing science of Egyptology, says a Missouri University of Science and Technology historian.

Related Articles


Dr. Kathleen Sheppard, an expert in the history of science, particularly archaeology and Egyptology, and an assistant professor of history and political science at Missouri S&T, says that while mummy unwrappings served as public spectacles that objectified exotic artifacts, they were also scientific investigations that sought to reveal medical and historical information about ancient life.

Sheppard wrote about this intersection between science and showmanship in an article titled "Between Spectacle and Science: Margaret Murray and the Tomb of the Two Brothers." It will be published in the December issue of the journal Science in Context.

Sheppard says 20th century Egyptologist Margaret Murray, the first woman to publicly unwrap a mummy, sought to unravel the mysteries of ancient Egypt by exposing mummified human remains. She says Murray's work is culturally significant because it is "poised between spectacle and science, drawing morbid public interest while also producing ground-breaking scientific work that continues to this day."

Public spectacles that displayed mummified remains as objects of curiosity date back to the 16th century, Sheppard says. "These types of spectacles were highly engaging shows in which people were, to a certain degree, educated about different aspects of science both by showmen and scientists."

Many Egyptologists drew a distinction between "Egyptomania," the fascination with all things Egypt, and "Egyptology," the scientific study of Egyptian life, Sheppard says, but Murray had a different goal -- involving the public in scientific inquiry with a goal of correcting popular misconceptions.

"Murray tried to get the public to see that mummies weren't magical, they were just preserved human remains to be studied and learned from," Sheppard says. "In other words, rather than trying to separate the 'mania' from the 'ology,' she wanted to bring reason and understanding to the mania."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Missouri University of Science and Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kathleen L. Sheppard. Between Spectacle and Science: Margaret Murray and the Tomb of the Two Brothers. Science in Context, 2012; 25 (04): 525 DOI: 10.1017/S0269889712000221

Cite This Page:

Missouri University of Science and Technology. "Mummy unwrapping brought Egyptology to the public." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121029154253.htm>.
Missouri University of Science and Technology. (2012, October 29). Mummy unwrapping brought Egyptology to the public. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121029154253.htm
Missouri University of Science and Technology. "Mummy unwrapping brought Egyptology to the public." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121029154253.htm (accessed April 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Giant Amphibian Fossils Found in Portugal

Giant Amphibian Fossils Found in Portugal

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — Scientists discover a new species of giant amphibian that was one of the largest predators on earth about 220 million year ago. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ancient Egyptian Beer Making Vessels Discovered in Israel

Ancient Egyptian Beer Making Vessels Discovered in Israel

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) — Fragments of pottery used by Egyptians to make beer and dating back 5,000 years have been discovered on a building site in Tel Aviv, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said on Sunday. Duration: 00:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Party Like It's 3000 BC: Egyptian Beer Vessels Unearthed in Tel Aviv

Party Like It's 3000 BC: Egyptian Beer Vessels Unearthed in Tel Aviv

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — Israeli archaeologists unearth ancient Egyptian beer vessels in downtown Tel Aviv. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

Newsy (Mar. 29, 2015) — A 508-million-year-old arthropod that swam in the Cambrian seas is thought to share a common ancestor with spiders and scorpions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins