jueves, 2 de febrero de 2012

Cleopatra's Mummy at the British Museum

*To my English readers: I apologize for every mistake. Please be aware I'm a Spanish writer who translate what you asked for. Original español (7/07/2010)

Great Court of the British Museum.
I have visited the British Museum countless times over the years and particularly during the spring, summer and fall 2010. But I never get tired of contemplating the beautiful Assyrian bulls, the Greek sculptures of the Parthenon, the Egyptian mummies, the statue of Ramsses II, the Rosetta Stone, the busts of Augustus, Hadrien and Antinous, the objects from the Sutton Hoo ship-burial, etc. After so many times, maybe they shouldn’t leave me breathless but they do it, even if there is a legion of tourists taking pictures, screaming at the sight of a statue and pushing in a hurry for posing in front of those objects that were once simple sheets in the text books of our childhood.
The objects tell us thousands of stories: who forged them, their models, their cities, their countries, continents, historical periods, meaning and religious or political values. Objects tell also the story of their owners for centuries. Every object is a precious witness of the ephemeral human existence.
Coffin and Cleopatra's mummy (British Museum).
The mummy of Cleopatra, who now reigns in the Egyptian section in the British Museum of London, is one of those immortal objects. I used to think that this mummy was the mummy of the real Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, who committed suicide bitten by the asps. Big mistake: she's not the Cleopatra we know from the movies though she seems to be a member of the same family who lived in II century AD.
Here you have the explanation that appears written on the pannel:

"Cleopatra: the mummy of a young woman
The mummy and coffin of Cleopatra, daughter of Candace, from the Soter family burial, entered the British Museum in 1832 via the first collection of Henry Salt. The mummy is wrapped in many layers of cloth, with an outer shroud on which is painted a figure of the deceased woman. A comb and a necklace of beads were placed on the body inside the wooden coffin. The hieroglyphic inscription on the coffin gives Cleopatra’s age at death, for which a reading of 17 years, 1 month and 25 days has been proposed. X-ray studies using a CAT scanner show a skeletal development and a fusion of the ends of the long bones which is consistent with this age.

The skeleton appears to be in good conditions. The skull is tilted forward and the mouth is open. There are at least three packages in the right chest cavity, possibly the preserved internal organs. An object, about 9cm long, in the left chest cavity may be a roll of linen or a figurine. CAT scans also revealed the use of packing materials (probably mud or sand), which contribute to the substantial weight (about 75kg) of this mummy”.
There is also an interesting story related to the discovery of the Mummy, as it's always the case when the protagonists are Lords or British adventurers in Greece, Turkey, Egypt... Some speak of plundering of national treasures, and others (the explorers, archaeologists or simply rich people) talk about recovery of abandoned or severely neglected pieces that they brought to England for the future of the human being.

Mummification of animals (British Museum)
I hope you also enjoy this nice picture of mummified animals. The ancient Egyptians sacrificed their pets and other animals as a way to conquer the favor of Gods (for them, not for their pets, of course).

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