Saturday, 25 March 2017

Mummies Revealed

Now at the American Museum of Natural History, a new “Mummies” exhibition explores how two civilizations on opposite sides of the globe, ancient Egypt and pre-Columbian Peru, both embraced mummification.

Though mummies are linked to Egypt, it was Peru’s Chinchorro people who first began mummifying their dead, some 7,000 years ago. The Gilded Lady has a face adorned with a thin layer of gold. CT scanning reveals she likely died in her 40s of tuberculosis, and had curly hair and an overbite.
The headdress is made of cartonnage, a papier-mâché like substance made from glued layers of papyrus or linen, then covered with gilding, a thin layer of gold. Ancient Egyptians believed the gold would enable the person’s eyes, nose, and mouth to stay intact for the afterlife. The golden skin was used to show divinity because after death, she would be transformed into the god Osiris, who had skin of gold.