The cat cemetery on the west side of the town consisted of numbers of large brick chambers, crammed with burnt and decayed mummies, many of which had been enclosed in cat-shaped cases of wood and bronze.
The royal mummies furnish evidence of age at death as well as of health and physical character.
It is of interest to note that grape-stones have been found with mummies in Egyptian tombs of not later age than 3000 years.
The Guanches embalmed their dead; many mummies have been found in an extreme state of desiccation, each weighing not more than 6 or 7 lb.
Probably no extinct animal has left such abundant evidence of its former existence; immense numbers of bones, teeth, and more or less entire carcases, or " mummies," as they may be called, having been discovered, with the flesh, skin and hair in situ, in the frozen soil of the tundra of northern Siberia.
Remains of the mummies of dogs and similar animals sacred to these deities are scattered among the debris on the hillside in abundance.
Thus the bituminous and fatty matters found about the mummies and their wrappings were employed as a sovereign remedy, particularly for wounds and contusions, and a brisk trade began in these "exudations" of mummies.
The so-called Mammoth Cave "mummies" (i.e.
The scope of the archaeologist's studies must include every department of the ancient history of man as preserved in antiquities of whatever character, be they tumuli along the Baltic, fossil skulls and graven bones from the caves of France, the flint implements, pottery, and mummies of Egypt, tablets and bas-reliefs from Mesopotamia, coins and sculptures of Greece and Rome, or inscriptions, waxen tablets, parchment rolls, and papyri of a relatively late period of classical antiquity.
The tales that grains of wheat found in the cerements of Egyptian mummies have been planted and come to maturity are no longer credited, for the vital principle in the wheat berry is extremely evanescent; indeed, it is doubtful whether wheat twenty years old is capable of reproduction.
The larger animals were represented in mummies by the head and a selection of the bones.
A single choachyte would have an interest, not always the sole interest, in a large number of mummies, and these interests could be disposed of by will or contract, bought and sold.
The taricheutae, or embalmers, had no permanent interest in the mummies they prepared.
Thanks to the great care expended on the preservation of the royal dead, although the mummies of all the other kings have disappeared, a wonderful series of the Theban kings and queens of the New Kingdom from the XVIIth Dynasty to the XXIst Dynasty has come down to us.
In Lower Egypt practically all the mummies have perished; but in Upper Egypt, as they were put out of reach of the inundation, the cemeteries, in spite of rifling and burning, yield immense numbers of preserved bodies and skeletons; attention has from time to time been directed to the scientific examination of these in order to ascertain race, cause of death, traces of accident or disease, and the surgical or medical processes which they had undergone during life, &c. This department of research has been greatly developed by Dr Elliott Smith in Cairo.
He has examined not only the more recently found of the royal mummies, but also multitudes of skeletons, &c., which have been brought from the official excavations of the government and from other work.
A series of forty-four mummies of priests and priestesses of the XXIst Dynasty furnished the material for an important monograph.
Pettigrew, A History of Egyptian Mummies (London, 1834); G.
In the XXIst Dynasty, when tomb robberies were rife and most of their valuables had been stolen, the royal mummies were removed from place to place and at last deposited for safety in the tomb of Amenophis II.
About that time a party of young Germans had arisen who professed to care little for constitutionalism and other " legal mummies," but made the preservation and extension of their own nationality their sole object.
According to the evidence of the mummies, the Egyptians were of slender build, with dark hair and of Caucasian type.
Dr Elliott Smith, who has examined thousands pf skeletons and mummies of all periods, finds that the prehistoric population of Upper Egypt, a branch of the North African-MediterraneanArabian race, changed with the advent of the dynasties to a stronger type, better developed than before in skull and muscle.
That circumcision (though perhaps not till puberty) was regularly practised is proved by the mummies (agreeing with the testimony of Herodotus and the indications of the early tomb sculptures) until an edict of Hadrian forbade it: after that, only priests were circumcised.
The contents of the tombs have been nearly destroyed by successive plunderers; enough remained to show that rich jewellery was placed on the mummies, a profusion of vases of hard and valuable stones from the royal table service stood about the body, the store-rooms were filled with great jars of wine, perfumed ointment and other supplies, and tablets of ivory and of ebony were engraved with a record of the yearly annals of the reigns.
An investigation took place which showed that one of the royal tombs before the western cliffs had been completely ransacked and the mummies burnt.
The mummies from the despoiled tombs of the kings were the object of much anxious care to the kings of this dynasty; after being removed from one tomb to another, they were finally deposited in a shaft near the temple of Deir el Bahri, where they remained for nearly three thousand years, until the demand for antiquities at last brought the plunderer once more to their hiding-place; eventually they were all secured for the Cairo museum, where they may now be seen.
The great find of royal mummies at Deir el Bahri, shows the head frightfully hacked and split, perhaps in a battle with the Hyksos.
Already in the New Kingdom the wealthiest persons had their mummies laid in several coffins, each of which was gaudily painted with mythological scenes and inscriptions.
For historical pathology the examination of mummies and skeletons is yielding good results.