‘To turn round a dead’: Engagements with Egyptian Mummies in London at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century

Angela Stienne

Abstract


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Starting with observations on a coffin that was brought from Egypt in 1722 and displayed at the British Museum from the first day of its opening — coffin EA6695 — this paper explores physical engagements with Egyptian mummies in London at the turn of the 19thcentury. It argues that it is through physical engagements — including investigations and destructions — that the Egyptian mummy was used to construct knowledge, not only about ancient Egypt, but about the body, race and the modern world. Using a number of sources from a range of individual reports, this paper sheds light on the cultural practices that surrounded and shaped engagements with Egyptian human remains, and reappraises the value of looking at destructive investigations as cultural interventions that can explain later practices, including the public mummy unrolling.


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Copyright (c) 2019 Angela Stienne

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