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Polished Edge: Get spooked by ‘Mummies of the World’
Mummies from several different countries are featured in the “Mummies of the World” exhibit. Though the reasons for mummification differ, all feature soft tissue which has been preserved.
SAN ANTONIO -- Patrons walking into the “Mummies of the World” exhibit at the Witte Museum enter cool, dark rooms filled with low-tone music and a damp ambience that evokes life long forgotten.
More than 150 artifacts and specimens fill the various chambers of the exhibit, which opened Sept. 29.
Marise McDermott, president and CEO of the Witte Museum, said she is excited for the mummies to be in San Antonio.
“The Witte is a natural history and science museum,” McDermott said. “It is such an extraordinary experience to be in such close proximity to people who lived thousands of years ago.”
“Mummies of the World” takes visitors past the traditional Egyptian mummies to explore a new world of artifacts, which includes items from Asia, Europe, South America, and Oceania, as well as Egypt.
“What this exhibit offers those who come to see it, is a chance to see that mummies can come from all over the world,” McDermott said. “... Sometimes, people will come to museums and see Egyptian mummies, but this exhibit offers a chance to see beyond that. The cross-cultural look is extraordinary. Only in a museum can you do something like this; it’s very powerful.”
Some of the featured exhibits include the Detmold Child, a Peruvian child mummy dating back 6,420 years, and Baron von Holz, a 17th-century nobleman believed to have died in or near Sommersdorf, Germany, during the Thirty Years War (1618-48). He was discovered by descendants of his relatives in the crypt of the family’s late-14th-century castle.
An unusual aspect of the exhibit is animal mummification, which also was prevalent throughout ancient times.
The exhibit features many different types of animals, including a howler monkey from Argentina, a hyena, and various dog, fish, and reptile mummies.
For those seeking an Egyptian mummy experience, “Mummies of the World” also features both complete and partial Egyptian mummies, including the sarcophagus of Nespaqashuti, an Egpytian man dating to about 650 B.C.
“Mummies of the World” offers insight into how ancient cultures cared for their dead and explains the mummification process. The exhibit offers perspectives into various cultures and peoples from around the world and what they believe awaits them in the afterlife. It also offers a firsthand look at their beliefs in practice.
“We have had a great turnout thus far,” McDermott said. “Over 5,000 people have already made their way to see it; this is an exhibition people really wanted to see.”
“Mummies of the World” can be experienced at the Witte Museum in San Antonio through Jan. 27, 2013. The museum is located at 3801 Broadway. For more information, visit www.wittemuseum.org.
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