Mummies of the World is the largest exhibition of mummies and related artifacts ever assembled, featuring an astounding collection of 150 objects and specimens, including real human and animal mummies and related artifacts from South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Egypt. Some of the rare and ancient objects presented in Mummies of the World include:
Egyptian animal mummies are often elaborately wrapped in painted linen bandaging and sometimes are prepared to accompany royals into the afterlife, holding fascinating clues to life and death in ancient Egypt. In some cases, these elaborately preserved objects were also thought to be living representations of a god, and symbols of virility and strength linked to all-powerful gods of the ancient world.
The Egyptian cat mummies in this exhibition date to the Ptolemaic period, and show how Egyptian cats were ritually embalmed in a lengthy process using salt and various resins. Many Egyptian cat mummies, such as the object in the Mummies of the World exhibition, had detailed faces painted on their wrappings using black ink.
Mummies of the World includes several other Egyptian animal mummies, including a falcon, an ibis, a fish, a dog and a baby crocodile. It also presents animals that were mummified through natural processes, including a howler monkey, a lizard, a golden jackal and a snow rabbit.
These mummies are on loan from various museums in Germany.
Baron Von Holz is a 17th-century nobleman who is believed to have died in or near Sommersdorf, Germany during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48).
He was discovered in the crypt underneath the church of the von Crailsheim family’s late 14th-century castle, where their ancestors mummified naturally due to the environmental conditions. He was still wearing his leather boots, as depicted in an 1833 lithograph of the mummies in the family crypt.
In addition to the Baron, four other mummies were discovered in the crypt in 1822 – three adult women and an adult male. One of the women, identified as Baroness Schenck von Geiern, is also part of Mummies of the World. This is the first time that audiences outside Europe are able to see the Baron von Holz, and the first time that the Baroness von Geiern will be exhibited outside the castle.
Baron von Holz has undergone Computer Tomography (CT) scanning, which revealed that he has an extra vertebra in his lower back – giving him 207 bones rather than the human standard of 206. The scientific research also has provided information about the Baron’s age, era of birth and death, and his health, although the cause of death has yet to be determined. He was loaned to the Mummies of the World exhibition by Dr. Manfred Baron von Crailsheim, Sommersdorf.
The von Crailsheim family still resides in the castle.
The Orlovits family is part of a group of 18th-century mummies discovered in Vác, Hungary, in 1994. Reconstruction of parts of a Dominican church just north of Budapest uncovered two long-forgotten burial crypts dating back to 1674 and sealed in 1838.
Michael (born 1765) and Veronica Orlovits (born 1770) and their son Johannes (born 1800) were among those preserved by the cool, dry air of the crypt and the oil from the pine boards used to build their coffins.
Extensive research, including DNA analysis, revealed that Veronica Orlovits suffered from severe tuberculosis. By analyzing Computer Tomography (CT) scans and examining samples of some of the mummies’ lung tissue, researchers have learned that more half of the mummies found in the crypt had tuberculosis when they died. The disease was very common in Europe between the 16th and 18th centuries, resulting in the deaths of as many of 25 percent of Europeans at the time.
A total of 265 naturally mummified bodies were found – one of the most important European mummy finds in recent history. With permission from the church officials from the Vác Episcopate, the mummies were excavated by an expert team from the Ignac Tragor Museum in Vác. The mummies were studied at the anthropology department of the Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest.
About half of those discovered – 166 individuals – were recorded in church records, listed by family name, sex, date and cause of death. They were religious leaders and important local families who had been interred in the crypts between 1731 and 1838.
The Orlovits family is on loan from the Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest.
The Detmold Child is a Peruvian child mummy in a remarkable state of preservation, radiocarbon dated to 4504–4457 B.C. – about 3,000 years before the birth of King Tut. This infant was found in a burial pose typical of the region and the culture, representing further scientific proof that mummification took place in South America before Egypt.
A recent CT scan investigation revealed details about the child’s age, health and cause of death. The child was determined to be 8 to 10 months old, and suffered from a very rare congenital heart malformation.
The child shows signs of Vitamin D deficiency, as well as a cranial deformation called turricephaly – a condition caused by an early closure of skull bones that creates an abnormal, conically shaped skull. The child also suffered from a pulmonary infection, possibly caused by tuberculosis or pneumonia, which contributed to the cause of death.
The Detmold Child is on loan for Mummies of the World from the Lippisches Landesmuseum in Detmold, Germany.