Mummies in Nineteenth Century America

Ancient Egyptians as Artifacts

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About the Book

This work examines Egyptian mummies as artifacts in pre–1900 America: how they got here, what happened to them, and how they were perceived by the public and by archaeologists. Collected newspaper accounts and other documents reveal the progression of American interest in mummies as curiosities, commodities, and cultural lessons. Numerous mummies which no longer exist are identified, and commentary on mummy coffins and a discussion of methods of public exhibition are included.

About the Author(s)

S.J. Wolfe is a senior cataloger and serials specialist at the American Antiquarian Society. Over the past 20 years, she has been lecturing on ancient Egyptian culture and presenting mummy research. She lives in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Robert Singerman is the emeritus Jewish studies bibliographer at University of Florida Libraries, Gainesville. He lives in Gainesville, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

S.J. Wolfe and Robert Singerman
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 304
Bibliographic Info: 63 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3941-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1180-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Foreword by Bob Brier      1

Preface      3

1. “An Appropriate Ornament of the Operating Room”: Padihershef and the Beginnings of Mummymania in Nineteenth-Century America      7

2. “As Cheap as Candidates for the Presidency”: Egyptian Mummies in Early Nineteenth-Century America      27

3. “An Exceedingly Dry Company”: Exhibiting Egyptian Mummies in Nineteenth-Century America      55

4. “The Leg of Pharaoh’s Daughter, the One Who Saved Moses”: Egyptian Mummies in the Mormon World      96

5. Unholy Unrollers: “Scientific” Interest in Egyptian Mummies in Nineteenth-Century America      132

6. “Better Than Stealing Pennies from the Eyes of Dead Men”: Commercial Exploitation of Mummies in Victorian America      173

7. “No Stiff Has Ever Gone Over This Road Without a Death Certificate”: Egyptian Mummies and the American Public      201

Appendices

1. Catalogue of Pre-1901 References to Mummies in America Not Mentioned in the Text      231

2. Suggestions for Further Reading      238

3. Notes on the Coffins of the First Mummies Brought to America      240

4. Spreading the News      242

Chapter Notes      245

Bibliography      256

Index      271

Book Reviews

“remarkable…a delightful read…a priceless resource”—Fortean Times; “fascinating anecdote…a superb job of research…a must”—KMT (A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt); “a labor of love…very interesting…a worth-while addition”—Journal of Mormon History; “intriguing and entertainig study…an absolute must…a fascinating read”—Ancient Egypt; “all I can say is, WOW!! The amount of research, minute research, exacting research that went into the creation of this book is astounding.”—Egyptology News; “painstaking research…intriguing”—NEPCA Journal.