Visitors peer at the mummified remains of Ramses II in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum. The pharaoh, who reigned from 1279-1213 B.C., is considered one of the most powerful rulers of the Egyptian Empire.
“There was something strangely touching about her fingertips,” author Chip Brown noted in his impression of the 2,500-year-old mummy of Hatshepsut in our 2009 article on the ancient Egyptian queen. “Everywhere else about her person all human grace had vanished."
While the mummies of ancient Egypt loom large in the popular imagination, mummified remains can be found in ancient and modern cultures across the globe. Some mummies, like Europe’s bog bodies and Peru’s mummy bundles, occur naturally due to environmental exposure, while others, such as the modern mummies of Papua New Guinea, are the result of an elaborate intervention.
From ancient pets to victims of grisly sacrifice, mummies continue to fascinate and forge connections with the deep past. They are testaments to the endless human pursuit to be remembered long after we are gone.