Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Mystery Of The Mummy Paper

Seattle pi

Another version of this story appeared a few weeks ago.

Reality or urban legend: were the wrappings of ancient Egyptian corpses recycled and pulped to create so-called "mummy paper?" Archaeologists and other scholars have long debated the veracity of claims that mummies were imported into the U.S. in the mid-nineteenth century, stripped of their burial shrouds, and their bindings (largely composed of linen and other fibers such as papyrus and something akin to canvas) repurposed into printing paper. But, did this really happen? Are we being fleeced? Is this a fabricated tale? Can this yarn be unwound to get to the meat of the matter?

The answer to this puzzler, perhaps the holy grail of American Egyptology research (pardon the mixed metaphor), may have at long last been found at Brown University's John Hay Library. According to independent scholar and self-taught Egyptologist S.J. Wolfe, a document found in university's rare book collection is "the smoking gun" that proves mummies were mulched for newsprint.

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