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Wrapped up in mummies at the Maryland Science Center

Maryland Science Center | Where Erin Goes

On Thursday, I was invited to “unwrap a night like no other” at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

The museum was hosting a VIP preview of the “Mummies of the World” exhibit. It is the largest collection of mummies and artifacts ever exhibited. The limited engagement in Baltimore is the final stop of a three-year, nine-city exhibit tour before the mummies are returned to the institutions that loaned them.

The exhibit opened Saturday will run through Jan. 20. After viewing the collection, I have to say it is worth a visit. It includes mummies from Asia, Oceania, South America, Europe and, of course, Egypt.

As you enter the exhibit, you might notice the cool air. I peeked at a few of the temperature gauges in the exhibits, and one mummy was kept at 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit, another at 19 degrees Celsius. Phones had to be turned off and photography was not allowed. I apologize for not having any cool mummy photos to show you, but I found this video that shows you parts of the exhibit from when it was at the Milwaukee Public Museum in 2011.

When most of us think of mummies, we think of the Egyptians. Through the exhibit I learned how Egyptians mummified and saw the tools they used to mummify important leaders, children and even beloved pets. The first mummy I saw was of a small Egyptian child from 20 B.C. with hieroglyphics still visible on the linen wrapped around the preserved body.

Mummies of the World is at the Maryland Science Center through Jan. 20.

Mummies of the World is at the Maryland Science Center through Jan. 20.

Through the exhibit I learned the Chinchorro people of Peru were the first to mummify the dead. Beginning in 5050 B.C., the Peruvians mummified people in a seated position rather than lying down like the Egyptian mummies. The preservation of these mummies is mind-boggling. After thousands of years, the tattoo on a mummified woman’s chest is still visible, and through modern technology, researchers are able to learn so much about these ancient cultures. From CT scans of a 6,500-year-old mummy, researchers were able to conclude the child was 8-10 months old and had a heart defect and lung infection.

While I knew the Egyptians intentionally mummified their deceased, I was surprised to learn how many mummies discovered worldwide were mummified by natural causes. These causes are often extreme weather conditions — desert, extreme cold or cold wetlands and peat bogs. One woman was found headless in a bog, but upon further study, researchers concluded she died between late summer and early fall due to the contents of her stomach — her last meal included blackberries. And, a German nobleman who died during the Thirty Years War and then placed in Sommersdorf Castle’s crypt was discovered in 1806. He was laid to rest in new leather boots, which you can see on the mummy. Upon further research of Baron von Holz’s mummified body, it was found that he had an extra vertebra in his lower back.

After seeing the mummies up close, visitors can purchase a souvenir photo. Just to prove I actually was there, here I am about to enter the exhibit:

I'm a mummy explorer!

I’m a mummy explorer!

Maryland Science Center

Location: 601 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230

Phone: 410-685-2370

Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday; 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday

Admission: Tickets are required to visit the museum and the mummy exhibit. Click here for pricing details.

Parking: Maryland Science Center offers validation for two nearby parking garages on E. Lee Street. With the validation, parking at Arrow Garage, located at 11 E. Lee Street, costs $9.

Wish you were here,

Erin

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