ARCHAEOLOGY

Beneath the Bandage: Up Close With Mummies

Wrapped in linen and reverently laid to rest,  mummies hold intriguing clues to life and death in ancient Egypt and around the world. 

The Beauty of Xiaohe

The Beauty of Xiaohe, a 3,800-year-old mummy discovered in the Tarim Basin in far western China, is shown at the "Secrets of the Silk Road: Mystery Mummies from China," exhibit at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif. A Philadelphia museum says its exhibit on the Silk Road will go on for a limited engagement after a dispute with the Chinese government.

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The Beauty of Xiaohe 2

In a Feb. 18, 2011 photo, the Beauty of Xiaohe, a mummy discovered in the Tarim Basin in far western China, is shown at the "Secrets of the Silk Road" exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. The exhibit is scheduled to run through until March 15. Philadelphia is the final stop before the artifacts return to China.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Infant Mummy

Members of the media view an infant mummy discovered in the Tarim Basin in far western China, at the Secrets of the Silk Road exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. The exhibit is scheduled to run through until March 15. Philadelphia is the final stop before the artifacts return to China.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Mummies of the world

These Egyptian mummy heads are part of the Mummies of the World exhibition, the largest traveling exhibition of mummies and artifacts ever assembled.

PRNewsFoto/Mummies of the World, Mathew Imaging

Egypt Mummy Mask

The Saint Louis Art Museum has filed a federal lawsuit in its effort to keep the 3,200-year-old Ka-Nefer-Nefer mummy mask -- which Egypt wants back. The museum says it has legal rights to the mask it purchased from a New York art deal for $499,000 in 1998. Egypt officials have claimed the mask was stolen in the early 1990s from a storage room near a pyramid.

AP Photo/Saint Louis Art Museum

Mummy Head

This is the mummified head of a middle-aged man who lived in Egypt during the Roman period, still half-covered in bandages. The skull contains desiccated embalming substances, but no soft tissue remains. Analysis establishes it as about 2025 years old. This head is part of the Mummies of the World exhibition, the largest exhibition of mummies and related artifacts ever assembled, which opened at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on July 1, 2010.

American Exhibitions, Inc

Head of Egyptian Mummy

This Egyptian mummy head is part of the Mummies of the World exhibition, the largest exhibition of mummies and related artifacts ever assembled. Egyptian mummies were frequently cut into pieces and sold, often to tourists, two centuries ago. 

American Exhibitions, Inc

Egyptian Cat Mummy

The Egyptian cat mummies in the Mummies of the World exhibition date to the Ptolemaic period, and show how Egyptian cats were ritually embalmed in a lengthy process using salt and various resins. Mummies of the World is the largest exhibition of mummies and related artifacts ever assembled.

The Deutsches Museum, Munich

Peruvian Child

This Peruvian child mummy in a remarkable state of preservation, radiocarbon dated to 4504 to 4457 B.C. -- more than 3,000 years before the birth of King Tut. The child, which was about 10 months old when it died, naturally mummified in the hot, arid desert environment. 

Credit American Exhibitions, Inc.

Mummy of Adult Female

This woman was naturally mummified in the warm desert air, seated in the burial posture typical in Peru before 1400 A.D. She was wrapped in fabric after her death, the impression of which is still visible on her chin and cheeks. She has unusual tattoos -- an an oval with a dot inside -- on both her breasts and beneath the left corner of her mouth. She is part of the Mummies of the World exhibition, the largest exhibition of mummies and related artifacts ever assembled, which opened at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on July 1, 2010.

Credit American Exhibitions, Inc.

Johannes Orlovits

Johannes Orlovits (1800-1801) is part of a naturally mummified family found in a church crypt in the town of Vac, Hungary in 1994. The crypt was established in 1729 and sealed in 1838, and a combination of relative humidity, ventilation, temperature and the pine coffins helped to preserve the bodies. The Orlovits family is part of Mummies of the World, the largest exhibition of mummies and related artifacts ever assembled.

American Exhibitions, Inc

Hunting Dog

Lovingly preserved, a hunting dog whose bandages fell off long ago likely belonged to a pharaoh. As a royal pet, it "would have been fed nibbly bits and spoiled rotten," says Egyptologist Salima Ikram. When it died, it was interred in a specially prepared tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Animal mummies hold intriguing clues to life and death in ancient Egypt. National Geographic documented the pets of the Pharaohs recently, with tons of pictures, an interactive map of graves, and the story behind the bandages. 

Richard Barnes

Feline Friends

The innermost secrets of mummies at the Egyptian Museum have emerged in a recent study. A wooden, cat-shaped coffin (at right), plastered and whitewashed to imitate limestone, stands about 14.5 inches tall, dwarfing the kitten inside. Spiral wrappings and a painted mask conceal a grown cat (at left)—one of countless thousands buried as votive offerings in the sands of Istabl Antar.

Richard Barnes

Meat Mummies

Meat mummies on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo were prepared as a royal picnic for the afterlife. Ducks, legs of beef, ribs, roasts, and even an oxtail for soup were all dried in natron, bound in linen, and packed in a reed basket for burial in a queen's tomb.

Richard Barnes

Baboon in Temple

Pampered in a temple during its lifetime, a sacred baboon was enshrined after death in the Tuna el-Gebel catacombs. Priests prayed and made offerings to it there as signs of their abiding reverence.

Richard Barnes

The Queen's Gazelle

A queen's pet gazelle was readied for eternity with the same lavish care as a member of the royal family. In fine, blue-trimmed bandages and a custom-made wooden coffin, it accompanied its owner to the grave in about 945 B.C.

Richard Barnes

Baboon

Buried with a dog, a baboon harbors a secret that helps identify it as a pet: An x-ray revealed missing canine teeth, probably removed to keep the creature from nipping royal fingers.

For even more photographs, see the full gallery at NationalGeographic.com.

Richard Barnes

Tut's Mommy's Mummy

The mummy of King Tut's mother, seen through a glass case, is displayed for media during a press conference with Egypt's top archaeologist Zahi Hawass, unseen, at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010. Two years of DNA testing and CT scans on King Tutankhamun's 3,300-year-old mummy and 15 others have provided the cause of death and the firmest family tree yet for Tut -- pointing to Pharaoh Akhenaten as Tut's father, Akhenaten's sister as Tut's mother, and Queen Tiye as Tut's grandmother.

AP Photo/Nasser Nasser

Tut's Mommy's Mummy

The mummy of King Tut's mother, seen through a glass case, is displayed for media during a press conference with Egypt's top archaeologist Zahi Hawass, unseen, at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010. 

AP Photo/Nasser Nasser

Tut's Mommy's Mummy

The mummy of King Tut's mother, seen through a glass case, is displayed for media during a press conference with Egypt's top archaeologist Zahi Hawass, unseen, at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010. 

AP Photo/Nasser Nasser

Testing King Tut

The face of the linen-wrapped mummy of King Tut beams beneath his new glass case in his underground tomb in the famed Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt. Egypt recently revealed the results of DNA tests made on the world's most famous ancient king, the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun, to answer lingering mysteries over his lineage.

Read more about Tut.

AP Photo/Ben Curtis

Tut's Mommy's Mummy

The mummy of King Tut's grandmother Queen Tiye, seen through a glass case, is displayed for media during a press conference with Egypt's top archaeologist Zahi Hawass, unseen, at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010. 

AP Photo/Nasser Nasser

King Tut's Family

The mummies of King Tut's, mother, left, grandmother Queen Tiye, center and father Pharaoh Akhenaten, right, seen through a glass case, are displayed for media during a press conference with Egypt's top archaeologist Zahi Hawass, unseen, at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010.

AP Photo/Amr Nabil

Mummies Discovered in Egyptian Tomb

Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass, left brushes away the sand to reveal a wooden sarcophagus, one of eight sarcophagi found inside a 26th Dynasty limestone sarcophagus along with other mummies at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, south of Cairo, Egypt. Hawass has unveiled a completely preserved mummy inside a limestone sarcophagus sealed 2,600 years ago during pharaonic times.

AP

Inside a Tomb

Feb. 11: sarcophagus, one of eight sarcophagi found inside a 26th Dynasty limestone sarcophagus along with other mummies at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, south of Cairo, Egypt. Hawass has unveiled a completely preserved mummy inside a limestone sarcophagus sealed 2,600 years ago during pharaonic times.

AP

Mummies Discovered in Egyptian Tomb

Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass, left brushes away the sand to reveal a wooden sarcophagus, one of eight sarcophagi found inside a 26th Dynasty limestone sarcophagus along with other mummies at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, south of Cairo, Egypt. Hawass has unveiled a completely preserved mummy inside a limestone sarcophagus sealed 2,600 years ago during pharaonic times.

AP

Inside the Sarcophagus

An Egyptian worker brushes away the sand on one of eight revealed sarcophagi found inside a 26th Dynasty limestone sarcophagus along with other mummies at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, south of Cairo, Egypt. Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass has unveiled a completely preserved mummy inside a limestone sarcophagus sealed 2,600 years ago during pharaonic times.

AP

Brushing Sand from a Mummy

An Egyptian worker brushes away the sand on one of eight revealed sarcophagi found inside a 26th Dynasty limestone sarcophagus along with other mummies at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, south of Cairo, Egypt. Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass has unveiled a completely preserved mummy inside a limestone sarcophagus sealed 2,600 years ago during pharaonic times.

AP

Mummy in Limestone Sarcophagus

An Egyptian worker holds a torch by one of eight revealed sarcophagi found inside a 26th Dynasty limestone sarcophagus along with other mummies at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, south of Cairo, Egypt. Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass has unveiled a completely preserved mummy inside a limestone sarcophagus sealed 2,600 years ago during pharaonic times.

AP

Beneath the Bandage: Up Close With Mummies

Wrapped in linen and reverently laid to rest,  mummies hold intriguing clues to life and death in ancient Egypt and around the world. 

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