Your Mummy

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Your Mummy

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Redigerat: nov 14, 2011, 3:45pm

Among the other interesting information in Discovering Ancient Egypt by Rosalie David is the following:

"One of the most curious commodities Europeans sought from Egypt was 'mummy' for use as a medicinal ingredient. In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was one of the most common drugs found in the apothecaries' shops of Europe, and in 1658 the philosopher Sir Thomas Browne commented, 'Mummy is become Merchandise, Mizraim cures wounds, and Pharaoh is sold for Balsams. However, it seems that from as early as AD 1100, and probably before, mummy was prescribed as a medicinal ingredient.
The word 'mummy', according to Abd' el-Latif, the Arab physician who was writing in the 12th century, was derived from the Persian term mumia which meant pitch or bitumen. In Persia this substance Flowed from the mountain tops and, mixed with the waters that carried it down, coagulated like mineral pitch; the resultant liquid was purported to have medicinal properties and indeed may have had some real benefit as an antiseptic. The Mummy Mountain became famed for this healing substance, and even the Queen of England received a gift of mumia from the King of Persia in 1809." p.16

"However, the demand rapidly exceeded the natural supply, and so other sources were sought. The blackened appearance of some of the preserved bodies of the ancient Egyptians (particualy those prepared in the later periods) led to the erroneous assumption that this was the result of the bodies being soaked in bitumen, and so it was believed that they would provide an alternative supply of mumia for medicinal use. Indeed, Abd' el-Latif claimed, 'The mummy found in the hollow corpses in Egypt differs but immaterially from the nature of mineral mummy; and where any difficulty arises in procuring, the later may be substituted in its stead.' The word mumia was consequently applied to these preserved bodies, and they have since continued to be known as 'mummies'". pp.16

"The history of the trade in mumia thus goes back over several centuries. In the earliest days, a flourishing business was established at Alexandria, and since large profits were to be made, many foreigners began to trade in mumia, exporting complete mummies or packages of fragmented tissue trom Cario and Alexandria. Soon, demand began to exceed supply and in his History of Mummies written in 1834, the surgeonThomas Pettigrew commented, 'No sooner was it credited that mummy constituted an article of value in the practice of medicine than many speculators embarked .in the trade; the tombs were sacked, and as many mummies as could be obtained were broken into pieces for the purpose of sale."'p.16

"The Egyptian authorities had to limit the export of mummies, but this only exacerbated the problem and led to fraudulent solutions. Pettigrew explains how Guy de la Fonteine of Navarre investigated the mummy trade in Alexandria in 1564; when he looked into the stock of mummies held by the chief dealer there, he found that the supply was augmented by preparing the bodies of the recently dead, often executed criminals, by treating them with bitumen and exposing them to the sun, to produce mummified tissue which was then sold as authentic mumia. Later in the 18th century, when the nature of such supplies was eventually revealed to the authorities, traders were imprisoned. A tax was levied, and it became illegal to remove mummies from Egypt" .p.16

"The actual benefits of the ingredient were disputed. On the one hand, it was used to treat, amongst other ailments, abscesses, fractures, con¬cussion, paralysis, epilepsy, coughs, nausea and ulcers. It also received royal approval when King Francis of France reputedly always carried with him some mumia mixed with pulverized rhubarb to treat his ailments. However, according to the physician Ambrose Pare, writing in 1634, it had no beneficial effects: 'This wicked kinde of drugge, doth nothing help the diseased .. .it also inferres many troublesome symptomes, as the paine of the heart or stomacke-, vomiting, and stinke of the mouth.' The strict measures introduced to curb the mummy trade did in fact reduce the worst excesses, but the ingredient continued to be in demand, and was still in use in medicines in 19th century Europe. Rosalie David Discovering Ancient Egypt." p.17 .

Redigerat: apr 19, 2012, 12:57pm

"About the middle of the fourth century there was a general digging up of the bodies of the most celebrated Christians of former ages to heal the diseases and strengthen the faith of the living. The tombs of Egypt, crowded with mummies which had lain there for centuries, could of course furnish relics more easily than most countries; and Constantinople then received from Egypt a quantity of bones, which were supposed to be those of the martyrs slain in the Pagan persecutions.

The Archbishop, John Chrysostome, received them gratefully, and though himself smarting under the reproach that he was not orthodox, according to the measure of the superstitious Egyptians, he thanks God that Egypt, which sent forth its corn to feed its hungry neighbours, could also send the bodies of so many martyrs to sanctify their churches.

Gregory, of Nazianzus, a little before had remarked that Egypt was the most Christ-loving of countries, and adds, with true simplicity, that, wonderful to say, after having so lately worshipped bulls, goats, and crocodiles, it was now teaching the world the worship of the Trinity in the truest form."

Sharpe, Samuel (2010-09-28). Egyptian Mythology and Egyptian Christianity (Kindle Locations 1122-1129). . Kindle Edition.

Redigerat: sep 21, 2012, 7:14am

Actually "mummy" wasn't just used in medicine but also as an artists' pigment (usually called "momia", but that's just the Italian variant of the word). Makes you wonder how many museum masterpieces are partially made of ground up human remains.

I've also heard that mummies were sometimes used as fuel, but I admit that's just hearsay.

P.s.: on the upside - much of what was sold as mummy was fake.

okt 22, 2012, 5:37pm

They were certainly used as fertilizer, being exported for that purpose.