On my way here I passed a local cinema and it turned out you were expecting me after all, for the billboards read: The Mummy Returns.

MARGARET THATCHER (1925-2013)

Mummies

The Persians would grind up mummies into dust to use in fertiliser, and also medicine known as 'mummia'.

JACK HANDEY

Probably the saddest thing you'll ever see is a mosquito sucking on a mummy. Forget it, little friend.

World's Greatest Mummies


The word 'mummy' comes from the Persian word 'mum' meaning 'bitumen.' Bitumen was never used by Egyptians, but the blackened skin of mummies led to the misconception that it was.
 
The earliest known Egyptian mummy is called 'Ginger' because of the colour of his hair; he dates back to 3300 BC. Egyptians originally threw bodies in pits of sand: they later started to use coffins, but this meant the bodies decomposed, which was felt to be a problem for anyone wishing to enter the afterlife.
 
The bandages on ancient Egyptian mummies are up to 1.5 miles (2,400 metres) long. The body's organs were removed to keep it dry and to prevent decomposition, beginning with the brain, which was whisked up with long hooks made of bronze that were pushed up through the nostrils. Once the brain was a soupy liquid, it could be drained out through the nostrils. The organs were placed in special jars known as 'canopic' jars, which were put in the tomb with the mummy. Each organ had its own guardian, represented by an animal-god on top of each jar.
 
One of the most common medicines in apothecaries' shops in Shakespeare's England was mummy powder, made from the ground-up remains of Egyptian mummies – as was the artists' colour 'Egyptian Brown', also known as 'Mommia'. There was an artists' supply shop in Paris called A la Momie. 

Dead Inca kings were mummified, put into storage and brought out to the main square every day for prayers and llama sacrifice.

Self- Mummification


Sokushinbutsu were members of an obscure Buddhist sect in Japan who practised the rather macabre idea of self-mummification. The practice was something of a rigmarole, as follows:
 
For 1,000 days a priest would eat a special diet of nuts and seeds, while taking part in a regimen of rigorous physical activity that stripped him of his body fat. He would then eat only bark and roots for another 1,000 days and drink a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree. This caused him to vomit and lose bodily fluids - the idea being that the body becomes too poisonous to be eaten by maggots.
 
The monk would then lock himself into a tiny stone tomb with an air tube and a bell. Sitting in the lotus position, he would ring the bell every day to show he was alive. When the bell stopped, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed. The other monks in the temple waited another 1,000 days, then opened the tomb to see if the mummification was successful. If it was, the monk was seen as a Buddha and put in the temple for viewing. Most of the time it didn't work, but at least the monk was still admired and revered for his dedication and spirit.
 
The practice had been carried out since at least 1363, but is now against the law as it is considered to be a form of suicide.

'Mummy brown' was a shade of paint made from ground-up Egyptian mummies. It was discontinued after mummies ran out.

Tutankhamun was the only Egyptian pharaoh mummified with an erect penis.

King Charles II rubbed dust from the mummies of pharaohs over his body, hoping that their 'greatness' would rub off.

A CT scan of an 11th - 12th century statue of Buddha has revealed a mummified monk inside.

In 1888, a Nile farmer found a cat cemetery containing 10,000 mummified cats. All 19 tons of them were shipped to Liverpool and sold as fertilizer for £4 a ton.

A mummified lion was placed in the tomb of Tutankhamun's wet-nurse.