Mummies Museum DorchesterFriday, February 12th, 2010
Dorchester has become an outpost of Ancient Egypt since the opening of The Tutankhamun Exhibition in 1987, the most comprehensive exhibition on the boy pharaoh outside of Egypt. The town has often been the only place where you can experience the splendour of Tutankhamun’s tomb, for the real tomb in the Valley of the Kings restricts the number of visits. The Tutankhamum Exhibition holds a spectacular recreation of Tutankhamun’s tomb and treasures.
Next to the Tutankhamun Exhibition, is another splendid exhibition titled ‘Mummies of the Pharaohs’ located in the Amarna Centre on Alington Street.
Mummies of the Pharaohs
This mummies exhibition reveals 3000 years of Ancient Egyptian embalming dating right back to the earliest reed burials and sand burials. The exhibition includes exact facsimiles of mummies and thrilling facts about the mummification process, how they were wrapped and the cult of the dead in Ancient Egypt. It is a great opportunity for people of all ages to discover the secrets of the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, their treasures and the magic that protected their mummified bodies.
What is a Mummy?
Ask a young child and you will get an obvious answer. Many people think of mummies as humans covered head to toe in bandages and associate them with horror films such as the “Curse of the Mummy” while others regard them as somewhat humorous characters in cartoons such as Scooby Doo.
The Egyptian mummies have certainly gripped people’s imagination and challenged explorers and historians as a source of inspiration and mystery.
A little more prosaic is the dictionary definition which describes a Mummy as “A dead human body embalmed and dried after the manner of the ancient Egyptians. A body preserved in a dry state from the process of putrefaction.” The exhibition provides visitors with a much more detailed account of the mummification process.
The practice of mummifying the dead was not restricted to humans. The Egyptians turned their skills to mummifying animals as well, particularly those whose form was assumed by the gods, such as Bastet (cat) and Sobek (crocodile). These were mummified in huge numbers and buried within the confines of temples dedicated to them.
How did the Egyptians wrap the Mummy?
The Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen and it has been calculated that a mummy might use up to 375 square metres or 448 square yards of cloth – some burials used cast-off domestic clothing and household towels. Before the wrapping could begin, all the linen had to be collected together and arranged in stacks according to purpose.
One piece would be used as a shroud, another for padding, while yet another would be used to produce lengths and lengths of bandaging. It took fifteen days to wrap a mummy. This was because every action was dictated by ritual and had to be accompanied by the appropriate recitation of spells.
Ancient secrets of the Mummies revealed
This unique exhibition reveals 3000 years of Ancient Egyptian embalming.
An example of ancient sand burials, Ginger is thought to be the oldest known predynastic sun-dried mummy. He was buried at Geblein about 3200 BCE. His dead body was perfectly dried and preserved by the action of hot dry sand.
You can also see a superb collection of unwrapped royal mummies featuring:
Ramses the Great
Ramses the Great ruled Egypt during the time of the Biblical Exodus. Ramses the Great, also know in some sources as Ramesses or Rameses, was an Egyptian pharaoh during the 19th dynasty. He reigned for more than 66 years and during his rule Ramses concentrated on building cities and temples and exploring regions outside Egypt.
Seti I, a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, was a great warrior king. He was the father of Ramses the Great.
Also mummified sacred animals, death-masks, coffins and other treasures are on display. All have been specially recreated for this fascinating exhibition.
Egyptian Mummy Pictures
Take a look at the Mummies Exhibition website to view a small selection of the mummies and artefacts displayed in the Exhibition.
The Mummy Exhibition is open all year round, Monday to Sunday between 10.00am and 5.00pm. Admission is £4.50 per adult, Children £3.00 (under 5 years free), Seniors/Students £4.50 and a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) is £13.00. If you combine your visit with a trip to the Tutankhamun Exhibition, you can take advantage of a deal offering half price entry to the Mummies Exhibition.
There is an online shop selling everything from essential books about mummies, statues, replica coffins, and mummy related jewellery including Shabtis which were widely used as funerary figurines.
Why not try a visit to the Mummies Museum Dorchester this half term and be part of the ancient Mummy Experience.