MUMMY ETHICS


The treatment and display of mummies and other human remains is a sensitive issue. One that sways back and forth in the media.

Takabuti, an ancient Egyptian mummy on display at the Ulster Museum was recently the centre of the egyptology community because recent analysis of her mummy revealed she died in a violent knife attack 2,500 years ago.

Another recent scientific study garnered controversy because scientists had successfully recreated the voice box of an ancient Egyptian priest called Nesyamun. All thanks to 3D scanning technology and his perfectly persevered larynx. The team behind the reconstruction were able to share the sound of his voice.

This type of research draws considerable fascination and appreciation but they also bring a lot of criticism.

John Kannenberg, curator and director of the Museum of Portable Sound called the research ‘Bad Science’ and added that playing the voice of Nesyamun is akin to playing a musical instrument which demonstrates a lack of respect.

Viewing mummies in museums is often a highlight for many visitors. Seeing the body of an ancient Egyptian can invoke awe and appreciation for the amazing preservation. But it can also bring about that clear and lingering question - should this mummy be on display? After all, it is the vessel of a once-living human being.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

P.S. The mummy seen here is that of a man who lived during the Ptolemaic Dynasty of ancient Egypt. His crisscrossing wrappings are absolutely perfect. He rests now at the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

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