Throughout history people have been mummified for reasons both intentional and unintentional. To some, the sight of a withered corpse may be grotesque, but these remnants of former kings, victims, and scholars will continue to educate and bring insight into their lives and the times in which they lived for years to come. The following are 4 examples of mummies from all over the world that have been brought to us for very different reasons:
King Tutankhamen (ca. 1343 B.C.)
The tomb containing the most famous boy king of Egypt was discovered in the Valley of Kings in 1923. In 1343 B.C. King Tutankhamen was sent off into the afterlife with priceless treasures gilded in gold, which have been displayed in museums worldwide. For many years his mummified body had gone unseen – until now. The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, as well as the Pacific Science Centre in Settle, Washington are offering the rare opportunity to see his body, the sarcophagus in which it was held, and the priceless cache of treasures found in his tomb
Tullund Man (ca. 4 B.C.)
The Tullund Man was thought to be a murder victim upon his initial discovery by a group of hunters in 1950. Known as a bog body, the corpse had gone through a process similar to that of a pickle, where body fluids are replaced by acidic bog water, leaving the flesh inhospitable to bacteria, thus preventing decomposition. It is confirmed that he was hanged, most likely as a sacrifice, evidenced by rope fiber found in his neck. Come see the Tollund Man on display at his new home, the Silkeborg Museum, when you book your car rental in Denmark.
Jeremy Bentham (ca. 1832 A.D.)
(Courtesy of Matt From London)
Known for his philosophies of social reform, Jeremy Bentham’s final request (as written in his Will) was to be mummified and displayed at the University College London. Originally his body was kept by a friend until he died in the early-20th century. Now Mr. Bentham can be seen in a glass case within the corridors of UCL. A wax head was incorporated for aesthetic reasons; his real head is safely locked way in the university.
“Life Museum” (ca. 2000)
In Thailand, the “Life Museum” at Wat Phrabaht Nampu HIV/AIDS hospice takes an unconventional approach to heightening the reality and awareness of the HIV/AIDS virus. In their final days patients come to grips with the morality of life, so much so that some opt to be mummified and displayed in the museum; allowing them speak out beyond the grave about the dangers of HIV/AIDS for years to come. For some people this may be disturbing but the people at Wat Phrabaht Nampu have a more poetic understanding of the process, referring to death as a new beginning:
“The spirits of those who have died here teach us how to think…
We forget that we are connected to all of life.
Death is part of life and we forget to accept this truth:
Death leads to the birth of new life.”