Friday, March 20, 2009

7 Non-Egyptian Mummies and Mummy Cemeteries You Must See Before You Die

7 Non-Egyptian Mummies and Mummy Cemeteries You Must See Before You Die

For most of us thinking of mummification means thinking of mysterious ancient Egypt and the pharaohs. Indeed, eternal life was the main focus of all ancient Egyptians who believed the body was home in the afterlife to a person's Ka and Ba, without which it would be condemned to eternal wandering. Famous movies such as The Mummy, a British horror film from 1959 to name one, have also contributed their part to our somewhat "Egyptian-biased" perception of mummification. Here is a (2:17 min) reminder:

Nonetheless, mummification existed in many non-Egyptian cultures just as well, as exemplified in the largest and most ambitious mummy exhibitions ever staged, recently opened in the northern Italian town of Bolzano. With more than 60 mummies from Asia, Europe, South America as well as Egypt, Mummies of the World: The Dream of Eternal Life will tour science centers and museums in the United States for a three year tour commencing July 2010. So, to celebrate this spectacular must see exhibition and since we know many of you want to but will not be able to attend, here are 7 famous mummies and mummy cemeteries we think you should see before singing off for your eternal wandering.

Oetzi the Iceman

Among the mummies that will be exhibited on the Dream of Eternal Life show will be the world-famous 5,300-year-old Oetzi. Natural Mummies - mummies that are formed as a result of naturally-occurring environmental conditions - have been found all over the world. Yet, none of them is even remotely amazing as this mummified Neolithic hunter also spelled Oetzi and known as Frozen Fritz or "The Iceman".

Otzi the Iceman is a well-preserved natural mummy of a man from about 3300 BC, found as shown in the above astonishing photographs by two German tourists, Helmut and Erika Simonby in 1991 in a glacier of the Otztal Alps in Italy, near its border with Austria. Otzi rivals the Egyptian "Ginger" as the oldest known human mummy, and has offered an unprecedented view on the habits of Chalcolithic (Copper Age) Europeans.

Thanks to modern x-ray technology recently published studies tell a lot of new facts about how Otzi lived. And died. For example, we know he was a member of a relatively advanced farming society and may even have been an Alpine herdsman. His moccasins were not made of bearskin, as previously believed, but from the skin of ancient seasonally migrating cattle made by herdsmen in the region of the Alps. We also know he died from an arrow-inflicted lesion to an artery near his left shoulder.

Grauballemanden the Tollund Man

The Tollund man, shown above, is another fantastic example of what ancient Europeans may have looked like. This naturally mummified corpse was dressed only in a pointed cap and belt when discovered in a peat bog in Denmark in 1952. The Tollund Man is believed to be over 2000 year old from the Pre-Roman Iron Age in Scandinavia.

Tollund Man was found buried in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark, which preserved his body. Amazingly, the head and face were so well-preserved that at the time of discovery he was mistaken for a recently deceased murder victim. Below are a few more interesting snapshots of the Tollund Man mummy.

Mummy Juanita the Ice Maiden

Mummy Juanita is a frozen Inca mummy of a teenage girl who died more than 500 years ago and was discovered in Peru in 1995 by anthropologist Johan Reinhard and his Peruvian climbing partner Miguel Zarate. Also known as Momia Juanita (original Spanish), the Ice Maiden, the Lady of Ampato and the Frozen Lady, this mummy is unfortunately going through quite a difficult modern life and not doing so well. In 2006 daily newspaper El Comercio published that an expert from the U.S. Smithsonian Institution who was vacationing in the southern Andean city of Arequipa detected dampness inside the mummy's glass-enclosed refrigeration compartment. Shown above: Mummy Juanita when found on Mount Ampato in Peru in 1995.

The above photograph was released by Peruvian press agency ANDINA on 18 May 2007. Authorities of the National Culture Institute said that the mummy is currently suffering from a slight deterioration that could eventually end in a complete decomposition if not saved by new technology.

Chinchorro Mummies

Chinchorro mummies go back to 7000 years, practically thousands of years before the Egyptian mummies mummified, thus representing the world earliest attempt known to date to intentionally preserve the dead. They are believed to be the remains of individuals from the South American Chinchorro culture found in what is now northern Chile and southern Peru around 5000 B.C. and reaching a peak around 3000 B.C. Their old age is clearly shown in the above photo by Iain McDonald and the one below by Paul but they can still provide a general idea of what you can expect if you happen to pay them a visit.

Chauchilla Mummies

The cemetery of Chauchilla, located 30 Km away from Nazca, southern Peru, offers a particularly interesting set of pre-columbian mummies, human bones and skulls as well as some very interesting pottery work. We say "particularly interesting" because… well, they are just there, awaiting their visitors at open air. Above: A resting mummy in the Cemetery of Chauchilla.

Guanajuato Mummies

Perhaps the most terrifying mummy set ever discovered has certainly nothing to do with ancient Egypt but with the horrible cholera epidemic outbreak in Guanajuato, Mexico in 1833. The Mummies of Guanajuato are naturally mummified and - believe it or not - some of them were actuality buried alive:
"Due to the ferocity of the epidemic, more cemeteries had to be opened in San Cayetano as well as Cañada de Marfil. Many of the bodies were buried immediately to control the spread of the disease; in some cases, the dying were buried alive by accident. As a result, some of the mummies have horrific expressions attesting to their death in the tombs, though most expressions became fixed postmortem." (Wikipedia)
No one knows exactly how many bodies were extracted but unclaimed ones are from time to time extracted and put on display for your enjoyment in the Museo de las Momias in the city of Guanajuato near Mexico City. At the moment, according to L.A. Times, there are 56. Below photos from Guanajuato's Museum of Mummies via

  • Above: Ignacia Aguilar's Mummy, buried alive?

Above: Hand of Guanajuato mummy in the Museo de las Momias where unclaimed bodies often end up for public exhibition. Below are some more photos taken by visitors in the museum.

Takla Makan Mummies

In the late 1980's, perfectly preserved 3000-year-old mummies such as the amazing Marquis of Dai Mummy (via shown above began appearing in a remote Taklamakan desert.
"They had long reddish-blond hair, European features and didn't appear to be the ancestors of modern-day Chinese people. Archaeologists now think they may have been the citizens of an ancient civilization that existed at the crossroads between China and Europe. The discoveries in the 1980s of the undisturbed 4,000-year-old ”Beauty of Loulan” and the younger 3,000-year-old body of the ”Charchan Man” are legendary in world archaeological circles for the fine state of their preservation and for the wealth of knowledge they bring to modern research." (

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  1. Awesome....Maybe one day in a few thousand years they will find me, still sat at my computer....

  2. Anonymous21.3.09

    Great pics, I enjoyed reading the articles.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Anonymous28.3.09

    what about ginger at the british museum?

  5. Anonymous29.3.09

    Fine and interesting

  6. yooo mann...tht was something to burn away your wednesday blues...!! hell!!

  7. Anonymous26.4.09

    Argh, I don't think i could walk down that corridor lined with mummies. Horror movie much!

  8. Anonymous4.5.09

    I thought them same, exact thing. No way in HELL am I gonna walk down THAT corridor. They're WAY to close for my comfort.
    Enjoyed the site - thanks for putting it up!

  9. Anonymous29.6.09

    I have an addition, the "Sleeping Beauty" in Sicily. The girl is 100 years old but it just looks like she is sleeping.

  10. Anonymous17.10.09

    it is so amazing and there could be a true story that could go along with each pics. anyways it was interesting

  11. Anonymous18.10.09

    wow this is tight crap i just wanted to see the coffins but wow............

  12. The picture under Takla Makan mummies, doesnt looks like a real person even.

  13. Anonymous2.6.10

    OMG!!!!!!! that was awsome and ewwwwww and the same time post a comment if you think different

  14. Anonymous10.8.10

    wow that was so cool! who on earth would think that this is not cool because it is showing us the history over the person. like the clothes that the mummies was on.

  15. Anonymous31.8.10

    would love to see these in person thanks for sharing... humans are the most interesting creatures i ever encounter right after cats lol and maybe Pinguines?

  16. Anonymous12.11.10

    it´s amazing im can`t find the diference whit a normal person !! :P hair,skin ... awesome!

  17. Anonymous22.9.11

    putting mummies up for display in a museum has to be the most disrespectful thing i have ever seen!! so not cool at all.


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