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Showing posts from July 27, 2012

The Rosetta Stone: A History of the Sacred Characters

For over two thousand years, the secrets of the ancient Egyptians were lost to history. All the tombs, trinkets, statues and cenotaphs were pretty but indecipherable, covered as they were in a pictographic script that had no meaning. It wasn’t decades of research, the intricate technologies of archaeology or the explanation of some ancient king risen from the dead that unlocked the lost language of the ancient Egyptians. In fact, it was the accidental discovery of some half buried rock that came to be known as the Rosetta stone, by a French soldier that would change the face of Egyptology and provide a much needed window into the language and belief systems of the most celebrated ancient culture.
It was 1799 and Napoleon’s troops were preparing to defend against the encroaching Ottoman Army as they grew closer and closer to the city of Rosetta on Egypt’s West bank just miles from the sea.As they cleared away rocks to improve their fortifications, a small group of soldier …

Mummy Powder and the Household Use of the Egyptian Dead

Beginning in the 12th century, European physicians began to prescribe their patients a most unorthodox remedy: the ground remains of mummies procured from Egyptian tombs.
, the practice was widely accepted and so-called mummy powder was in sold in a variety of strengths. Powder procured from the crudely preserved bodies peasant folk buried in sand pits was said to be only good for relieving minor stomach aches, while the meticulously embalmed and bitumen-rich bodies of the Egyptian aristocracy were a highly valued commodity and supposedly capable of healing life-threatening wounds.
Mummy powder proved so profitable that soon after its introduction, Egyptian tombs were ransacked not only for the riches they might contain, but also for bodies that might be processed into the expensive folk medicine. It wasn’t long before the practice of applying mummy powder was incorporated into medieval Europe’s catalog of dubious medical practices. By the 16th century, the product had…