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In the 19th century, a very popular form of entertainment was the mummy unwrapping party. You could go to a private or public event at which an ancient Egyptian mummy would be unrolled and examined. Bandages would be passed around, touched and smelled, ancient jewellery would be admired, and the dead body of an Egyptian would be revealed at the end.
So, how did the bizarre and macabre of mummy unwrapping come to be? Where did the Victorians get all these mummies? Were they all comfortable with this gruesome spectacle?
Are we happy, today, to continue to display these mummies in museums?And how did all this feed into the enduring fascinating with Egypt – from mummies’ curses to the Tomb of Tutankhamun, mummy fiction to Brendan Fraser romping around Egypt?
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