Tuesday, February 09, 2010

In the lab: Mummy buff unwraps secrets at Hay

The Brown Daily Herald (Anna Andreeva)

Anthropodermic books are not all the Hay has to offer by way of eccentric collection pieces, as independent researcher S.J. Wolfe found. Nestled among the John Hay Library’s rare book collections is an 1859 broadside printed on paper made of processed mummy wrappings.

Wolfe, a senior cataloguer and serials specialist at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Mass., is currently working on a comprehensive database of all the Egyptian mummies and mummy parts that remain in the U.S. The database has around 1,249 entries, Wolfe said, and represents about 550 individuals.

Each entry in the database covers 25 categories, including the sex of the mummy, when it was first imported into the U.S. and the museum in which it is currently located. While the database is not currently available online, Wolfe said she hopes to post the information on the Web.

Ten years ago, Wolfe began collecting information on Egyptian mummies imported to the U.S. after coming across references to 19th-century American paper allegedly made of mummy wrappings.

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