As Halloween approaches we still have plenty more creatures to talk about. While this one may not do a lot of talking on their own, mummies have been portrayed as wrapped up mutes both on screen and in ancient folklore.
When people think of a mummy they usually envision a human form wrapped in layers of tissue from head to toe shuffling towards you. While that may be true enough, mummies come from a more interesting history.
The process of mummification was popular in many civilizations including Incan, Australian, African, and Aztec but is commonly known for its performance in Egypt. Each ritual varied by culture, but all consisted of honoring the body of the dead by preservation.
The Egyptian mummy process for royalty and the wealthy included:
- Washing the body
- Removing all organs except the heart and placing them in jars
- Packing the body and organs in salt to remove moisture
- Embalming the body with resins and essential oils such as myrrh, cassia, juniper oil and cedar oil
- Wrapping the embalmed corpse in several layers of linen
The mummies of the pharaohs were placed in a sarcophagus and buried in elaborate tombs with things they would need for the after life such as wine, food, jewels, perfume, and anything they particularly liked.
According to folklore, disrupting a mummies tomb leads to death. One of the most popular stories is the disruption of King Tut’s tomb by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. While it was an extraordinary find it did come with unexplained deaths by some members of his crew, but Howard Carter was spared from the so-called curse.
Mummies then became more mainstream by hitting the big screen in in 1932 with the movie The Mummy with Boris Karloff, where they instantly debuted as monsters who cannot feel pain and the most effective way to kill them is to be set on fire.
From there we have seen them in a countless number of movies and TV shows and they have become a popular costume for Halloween.
Let the stories of the ancient world spark your own writing creativity. Maybe mummies will be featured in your next book or short story!
Every story counts. Happy Spooktober!