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B O DY


event at the Royal College of Surgeons, those unable to gain entry to the crowded room included the Arch- bishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London. Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal reported specta-


tors on a similar occasion feeling ‘delight in witness- ing the unrolling of endless bandages, smiling at the hieroglyphics, and then staring at the dried remains of a being who moved on the earth three or four thousand years ago’. Mummy unrolling wasn’t just a visual spectacle, though; audiences could touch and smell fragments of the cloth wrappings or the bodies themselves, and investigators such as Granville even tasted samples as part of their analyses.


Some nasty beasts met together on Saturday last to indulge


in the disgusting amusement of ‘unrolling a mummy’. Our


old friend Pettigrew, commonly called Mummy Pettigrew, was the principal unroller on this


filthy occasion. Pettigrew seems positively to do nothing else but unroll mummies… [he] glories in the unclean process, and pulls about the encrusted carcase with


a fervour of purpose which may be scientific, but which is nonetheless nasty in the extreme.


‘Scientific Mummery’, Figaro in London, 1837


As a savvy marketer, when Pettigrew sought to publish a substantial work on the history of Egyptian embalming he included printed prospectuses for his publication along with the unrolling invitations that he dispatched to Egyptologists, antiquarians, scientists and lords. A History of Egyptian Mummies and an Account of the Worship and Embalming of Sacred Animals by the Egyptians, an accessibly written text illustrated by George Cruikshank (who would later apply his talents to Charles Dickens’s works) is still considered a valuable and admirable contribution to the field.


Read


Sugg R. Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The history of corpse medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians. Abingdon: Routledge; 2011.


Luckhurst R. The Mummy’s Curse: The true history of a dark fantasy. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2012.


Roach M. Stiff: The curious lives of human cadavers. London: Penguin; 2003.


— 78 —


Virtual autopsy technology


Mechanical heart pump in the thorax Computed tomography Anders Persson, 2013 B0009361 Wellcome Images


This image, produced by Swedish radiologist and researcher Anders Persson, won the 2014 Wellcome Images Awards. It uses the same imaging technology that allows virtual autopsies to be performed. Persson’s method is to capture ‘sliced’ images


of the patient as X-rays and combine these to create a three-dimensional digital model, which can be rotated, sectioned and zoomed into. Separate tissue layers, such as bone, fat and even air can be digitally manipulated to turn them transparent, opaque or coloured, allowing medical personnel to view the parts of the body that are most pertinent to their investigation.


Medicinal mummy


The remains of mummified Egyptian bodies were sought after for their medicinal properties from at least the tenth century, and mummia or mumia is thought to have been administered to Henry VIII as a remedy. Traders keen to satisfy demand raided ancient tombs and mummified the newly dead in order to generate enough stock.


From these sarcophagi, mummia, which is the oil of those dead


persons, is extracted and this the physicians give to sick patients with fractures.


12th-century Andalusian geographer


Al-Zohri describing the ancient burials of Alexandria


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