Museum Mummy Scares Up Interest - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Museum Mummy Scares Up Interest

Burlington, Vermont - October 23, 2007

If your idea of a mummy is a lumbering, rage-filled monster, then you ought to meet Christina Fearon. She chuckles, "Not everything they see in the movies is true."

She's heard it all as the education curator at UVM's Fleming Museum. Visiting schoolchildren keep her on her toes with their questions. Some of the common questions, as Fearon recites, are, "Is there any curse associated with the mummy? Will it come to life again?"

The Fleming is home to an Egyptian mummy that is at least 2600 years old. She's one of the museum's most popular attractions. Fearon adds, "I would say the most memorable."

In the early 1900s, UVM professor George Henry Perkins traveled to Cairo's Royal Museum of Egypt and came home with the painted coffin and its contents. He paid just thirty-five dollars, part of a spending spree that formed much of the University's ancient Egyptian collection.

But still, little is known of this woman, including how she died. Fearon says of the researchers UVM consulted, "They guessed it was a disease like diphtheria or smallpox. They killed a lot of people in ancient Egypt."

Her coffin reveals very few clues. Experts in hieroglyphics told the Fleming much of the painting is nonsense: just decorations, so she has no name. The fact she was buried in sycamore wood suggests she was likely middle class, and x-rays indicate she was probably a teenager when she died.

Those x-rays also show the embalmers broke her bones wrapping her up, or perhaps, when they removed her internal organs. Student Austin Graven-Franchot visited the Fleming with his class and saw the mummy. The Edmunds Middle School seventh grader exclaimed, "I think that's pretty gross!"

But it's a lesson in the ways of an ancient people, found in this mummy that, unlike the movies, has yet to stalk the halls of the Fleming at night.

Christina Fearon chuckles, "Nothing untoward has ever happened with the mummy!"

At least, not yet.

The Fleming is just one of Vermont's museums that has a mummy. Channel 3 will have the story of another ancient corpse that now calls Vermont home, Wednesday evening on the 6 o'clock news.

Jack Thurston - WCAX News

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