In This Episode
Today: Ripley’s Collection of Real (and Not So Real) Mummies
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King Tut Fever
In the early 1920s, the discovery of King Tut’s lavish tomb captivated the world. Coupled with the mysterious deaths of the explorers who found the tomb, the public’s curiosity about mummification went through the roof.
The more people learned about the process of making a mummy, the more their interest rose. The skill, knowledge, and effectiveness of the mummification process is astounding when you consider that it was being performed thousands and thousands of years ago.
How to Make a Mummy in 5 Simple Steps
The mummification process took 70 days to complete.
- It started with a tool being inserted into the nose, and the brain being scrambled and pulled out through the nostrils.
- Internal organs like the liver, lungs, stomach and intestines were removed, washed, and kept in Canopic jars.
- The heart, however, was left in place. The Egyptians believed that the heart, not the brain, was the seat of all intelligence and feeling. Because these qualities were needed for success in the afterlife, the heart was left in place.
- The body was washed with oils to keep the skin soft, and internally it was packed with aromatic spices and a naturally occurring preservative called natron. It was then left out to dry for 40 days before the process was completed.
- The linen strips most people think of when they think of mummies were also soaked in herbs and natron before being applied.
Because of this process, bodies of people and animals were so well preserved that they’ve lasted for generations.
Are You My Mummy?
One of the stranger things to come out of Tut Fever was the popularity of fake mummies across the U.S.
Everyone wanted to see a mummy and live to tell the tale. A trip to Egypt might have been outside of a lot of people’s price range, and smaller museums couldn’t afford to get their hands on a real mummified body to display.
As a result, circus sideshows and Dime Museums across the country rushed to create fakes and pass them off as real.
The fakes were made with animal bones and teeth, but nothing stopped the owners from claiming they were the real thing and charging full admission.
UNBOXING THE UNBELIEVABLE
With 32 odditoriums around the world, as well as traveling shows to fill with the oddest items imaginable, the team at Ripley’s never stops looking for new and bizarre exhibits to expand our collection. Once acquired, those freaky finds make their first appearance at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! warehouse, where they are unboxed, uncrated and unwrapped! Join us as we take a look at our purchases for the very first time, unboxing the truly unbelievable.