1,800 year old Egyptian mummy now on display as part of Curate My Community
CINCINNATI – As students return to campus, a four-year-old is headed to college. Umi, an Egyptian child mummy from Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC), is now on display at Mount St. Joseph University. The mummy and an accompanying exhibit is located in the Archbishop Alter Library as part of CMC’s Curate My Community initiative.
Through modern technology and analysis, Umi provides a unique window into history, offering a detailed look at Egyptian culture, biology and medical techniques. Dating back over 1,800 years, Umi is a mummy of a small child, approximately four-years-old at the time of death, that was mummified in a traditional Egyptian ceremony that would prepare its body for the afterlife. Buried with Umi, within the several layers of linen used to wrap the body, are over two dozen amulets. Using CT scans, scientists were able to “unwrap” Umi to reveal the amulets and produce prototypes for a closer look. By analyzing those amulets, researchers gained a deeper understanding of Egyptian culture and religion, discerning what was critical for one’s body and soul both in life and the afterlife.
Instrumental in this research were Dr. Gene Kritsky and Dr. Elizabeth Murray from Mount St. Joseph University’s department of biology. After sharing their research with millions of visitors to Cincinnati Museum Center, Dr. Kritsky’s and Dr. Murray’s work will be on display for Mount St. Joseph’s faculty, students and visitors.
“This exhibit shows our students and visitors how the tools of modern science digitally unwrapped the mummy discovering the secrets inside without destroying the delicate painting that covers Umi,” says Dr. Gene Kritsky, professor and chair of biology at Mount St. Joseph University. “It illustrates the scientific method at work, and how it can be applied to other disciplines. We’re happy to welcome Umi to our campus.”
Accompanying Umi is an exhibit with text panels and videos describing those scientific procedures used to analyze the mummy, including radiometric dating, a technique used to determine the mummy’s date of origin. By carefully removing the mummy’s sarcophagus and sampling a small piece of the linen used to wrap the body, scientists narrowed in on the relatively accurate date of A.D. 80-210 for mummification. Replicas of the amulets buried with the child and descriptions of their meaning along with a visualization of their placement is also part of the display.
“Umi is another example of how science and history are so closely intertwined and just how diverse the applications of those disciplines can be,” says Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “After so many years fascinating guests at Cincinnati Museum Center, Umi will now be a valuable teaching tool and example of applied science and history to the many inquisitive minds on Mount St. Joseph’s campus.”
Umi and the accompanying exhibit are on display at Mount St. Joseph University as part of CMC’s Curate My Community, a series of exhibits bringing artifacts and scientific specimens to locations around the Greater Cincinnati region. With the temporary closure of the Museum of Natural History & Science and the Cincinnati History Museum to facilitate the historic restoration of Union Terminal, CMC is presenting iconic pieces of its collection in new locations, educating and inspiring lifetime Members and new audiences. The Egyptian child mummy will join another CMC collection piece on campus, the fossil of a 380 million year old fish noted for its armored head and incredible jaw strength more than twice that of a T-Rex.
For a complete list of Curate My Community locations and objects, visit www.cincymuseum.org/curate-my-community