In Search of "The Mummy"

Forbidden love, buried treasure, and zombie villains… The Mummy is a tale that spans over three thousand years, set in one mysterious place: Egypt. A backdrop of deserts, pyramids, strong winds, gold cobra effigies, and towering dog-headed statues; where women with kohl-darkened eyes and men in flowing robes tread. Here, Rick O’Connell, Evelyn Carnahan, and her brother Jonathan are off on a quest for Hamunaptra: “where the earliest pharaohs were said to have hidden the wealth of Egypt.” Accidentally awakening a cursed mummy who will bring the end of the world, they must search for a way to stop it.

Among their stopovers is the port of Giza, a city known for the Great Sphinx, a half-man, half-lion monument which was once buried in sand. It is part of a complex of temples, and is near the Great Pyramid, burial site of the pharaohs. An estimated 35 thousand labourers are said to have been involved in building King Khufu’s pyramid. Within these huge structures are hieroglyphic carvings, aiding the dead on their way to the afterlife, as well as items they might need there. Thousands of smaller mastaba tombs of the aristocracy are also scattered around the area, their walls decorated with scenes from daily life.

Hamunaptra, the City of the Dead, is fictional, although there is a city in India with the same name. There is a real “City of the Dead” in Cairo, though, a necropolis where sultan and civilian alike find their final resting place. Many locals have settled amid these graves because of housing shortages. The City of the Living, Thebes, is also filled with temples and tombs. It was once the capital of Egypt, the birthplace of pharaohs, and possibly “the richest archaeological site in the world.”

Cairo’s Egyptian Museum is an actual Museum of Antiquities, just like the one Evelyn Carnahan works in. This is where the long deceased live on, to be studied by scholars and marvelled at by tourists. On display are ornate bracelets, ebony chairs, perfume vessels, deity sculptures, and tomb equipment just like the jars containing Anck-su-Namun’s organs. More archaeological finds will probably be housed here in the future. Arguably the most fascinating exhibit is that of Tutankhamun, the pharaoh who died when he was only 18 years old. His tomb was unearthed in 1922, revealing jewels, weapons, amulets, shabti (“funerary figurines”), and the famous gold mask.

Death is only the beginning,” and indeed, Ancient Egypt’s legacy continues to fascinate us today, long after the fall of the pharaohs.

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