Strange Uses For Mummies|
Ancient Egyptians had acute concerns about death and were preoccupied by the afterlife. Despite the different social statuses, most Egyptian's, upon their death, were mumified and had respectible burials. Royalty were buried in pyramids. Commoners bodies were curled up in a fetal position, wrapped with animal skins and placed in a large clay jar, which would be buried in the desert. The Egyptians believed that the bodies of the dead had to be intact in order to ensure a smooth passage into the afterlife; therefore they mummified the body. This mummification process's main aim was to preserve the body as long as it could.
From 3000 B.C. to A.D. 500, the ancient Egyptians mummified literally millions of bodies. Tombs and caves were so packed with them that many were moved to the desert and buried in the sand. Since Egypt had such an arid climate and contained so much sand, this, in itself, helped preserve the mummies. Mummies were so plentiful that they were sold by the ton. Of the multitude of humans who were embalmed and mummified, only a small fraction of them survive in museums today.
Not all bodies mummified were human. Some were cows, crocodiles, scorpions, or cats to name a few. For example, when a cat that belonged to them died it was mummified to prepare them for the afterworld. In 1888, 300,000 mummified cats were found at Beni Hassan and were promptly scooped up by tractors and sold at $18.43 per ton.
In the late 1800s, millions of mummies were used as fuel for locomotives because wood and coal were so scarce and mummified remains were so plentiful. Egyptians also used them as fertilizer and even to thatch the roofs of their homes. The wood from the coffins were used by poor people as firewood to cook on.
Perhaps the most unusual use for mummified remains occurred in the 1860s. American and Canadian companies bought shiploads of mummies and used their linen wrappings to make wrapping paper. Production was halted when it was discovered that it was the cause of an outbreak of a cholera epidemic.
Another strange use for mummified remains started in the 1100s in Europe and the Middle East. They were used for medical treatments. By the 1400s, some people boiled mummies in water and scooped off the top to sell.
In the 1600s the European medical community touted the properties of a powder or cream made from mummies. They claimed that it could be used to stop bleeding, heal broken bones, paralysis, migraines, epilepsy, nausea, disorders of the liver and spleen, as well as cases of poisoning.
By the early 1900s it was no longer being used as a medicine.