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July 10, 2003

Ramesses I

Had lunch with S who is working at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University this summer. Before lunch, S gave me an excellent tour of the museum's special exhibit on Ramesses I, who is the grandfather of Ramesses II, famous for being the pharaoh during the time of Moses. The exhibit and the history of this particular mummy were both pretty interesting.

Ramasses I succeeded two other generals who had fulfilled the role of pharaoh after Tutankhamen's early death. The mummy was only recently identified as Ramesses I after being purchased by the museum in 1999, and there is still wide debate as to the accuracy of these claims. The identification process itself is pretty trippy (click on the appropraite link of the Ramesses website), with the use of X-rays, DNA, the placement of the mummy's arms, the mummification process, and other forms of testing.

The story of the mummy itself (and how it came to be lost) is fascinating, but I won't go into too much detail for fear of getting facts wrong, but apparently many mummies were reburied in a well-hidden cave because of tomb robbers during a period of economic and political turmoil during the Egyptian dynasty around 1000 BCE. However, Ramesses' mummy disappeared during the late nineteenth century, and it is implied that the Abd el-Rassul family who discovered the cache may have been selling off bits and pieces of the collection to dealers (including the mummy in question) who would, in turn, sell them to (usually Western) collectors, such as the Niagara Falls Museum and Daredevil Hall of Fame where this piece resided.

One of the artifacts that I found most interesting was a stereoscope image of the mummy that dated from the 19th century. I don't know that I have a clear interpretation here, but the novelty of stereoscopes in the nineteenth century, the association between photography and death, and the mummy as the object of the image was pretty cool.

The Carlos Museum itself is well worth checking out if you're in Atlanta. It has a nice collection of Egyptian and South American antiquities, all of which are very well-contextualized. Cool stuff.

Posted by chuck at July 10, 2003 2:55 PM

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Is S still working at the Carlos museum once the semester starts? My mom is heading up to see that Ramesses exhibit tomorrow.

Posted by: George at August 24, 2003 9:32 AM

I think she's putting in five hours a week at the Carlos. She starts teaching this week, so I'm not sure when/if she'll be in (but I'll ask).

Posted by: chuck at August 24, 2003 10:22 AM

thanks a lot

Posted by: akasha thompson at November 17, 2003 3:57 PM

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