Museums ban naming ancient Egyptian remains ‘mummies’

(ORDO NEWS) — Mummies are one of the most popular exhibits in museums around the world, with such an expressive name that it was used in the filming of blockbusters.

But some museums in the UK no longer use the word “mummy” to describe their displays of ancient Egyptian human remains.

Instead, they begin to use terms such as “mummified person” or use the person’s name to emphasize that they were once living people.

Using a different language to describe these human remains may also distance them from the portrayal of mummies in popular culture, which tends to “undermine their humanity” with “mummy curse legends” and depict them as “supernatural monsters”.

The use of the term “mummified remains” may prompt visitors to think of a person who once lived.

Hancock’s exhibit of the mummified Egyptian woman Irtiru showed that many visitors “didn’t realize she was a real person,” museum manager Adam Goldwater told CNN.

“By displaying her more delicately,” Goldwater added, “we hope that our visitors will see her remains as they really are, not as an object of curiosity, but as a real person who was once alive and had very specific beliefs about how to deal with her body after death.

Museums have different approaches to the word “mummy”. The British Museum told CNN that it “did not ban the use of the term ‘mummy’ and it is still used in our galleries.”

However, the museum added: “Our recent displays used the term ‘mummified remains’… and the name (if known) of the person who was mummified… [to emphasize] that the remains belong to people who once they lived.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh told CNN that “the term ‘mummy’ is modern, not ancient” and that it is used more as a descriptive adjective for objects.


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