Editor’s note: This blog may contain some disturbing material that may be offensive to some readers. Don’t continue reading if you think it might be offensive to read about mummified remains, child sacrifice and mummy lords.
I have a total confession to make, which probably will NOT shock most of you if you know anything about me. But in case it does end up shocking you, I hope you’re sitting down and wearing something really comfortable. All set? Good…here goes…
I THINK MUMMIES ARE FASCINATING!
Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy
I’m not really THAT fascinated with Egyptian mummies, who used to be intact, living people – but had their “innards” removed after death and those cavities replaced with… “other stuff – and their bodies wrapped in bandages (I’m no Egyptologist).
I’m most fascinated with “accidental mummies.” People whose dead bodies become their own…”time capsules,” because of circumstances/chemicals that have somehow perfectly preserved their bodies.
Though…I will admit – I did go through a brief “obsession” with King Tut when I was a kid. I mean – how could I NOT? First of all, there was the whole traveling King Tut exhibit making its rounds in the U.S., and my absolute favorite “funny man” – Steve Martin, had a hit with the “novelty” song King Tut. I was especially fascinated with the fact that King Tut died young. I guess I’ve always been a bit of a Wednesday Addams, if you will – regarding my obsession with death and virtually all things macabre.
He’s my favorite honky! JK…that’s just a lyric from Steve Martin’s song King Tut…
This blog isn’t about those fancy “on purpose” mummies, but “accidental” ones. One such case happened about four years ago, when a guy went adrift in his boat and…turned into a perfectly preserved mummy, thanks to the dry, salty air (read more about that story here).
Without further ado…
Tales of Three German Mummies
Manfred “Fritz” Bajorat (German sailor/adventurer)
German “adventurer” Manfred “Fritz” Bajorat, who died on his ship while floating in the Philippine Sea. Investigators believe he was trying to call for help, and could have suffered a heart attack. They also believe he could have been trying to reconcile with his wife (she died of cancer in 2010).
When my husband told me about this sailor just a couple of days ago? He had my FULL attention. Let’s be real, shall we? As much as we love our “better halves” (and as much as they love us), sometimes…sometimes – we might all be a bit guilty of just “pretending” to listen to what they have to say. And they do the same with us! I paid FULL attention to what he was talking about (and of course had to learn more)!
Pia Farrenkopf (Pontiac, MI)
Pia Farrenkopf and the Pontiac, MI home in which her body was found.
In March, 2015, a Pontiac, MI woman (of German ancestry) named Pia Farrenkopf was found mummified in her garage. She had been dead for about five years before people finally noticed (how sad is that)? There is some debate about whether or not she voted in the 2010 midterm election, though a clerical error wasn’t ruled out (voting problems…go figure).
For about five years, mail never piled up at Pia’s house (she collected her mail at the post office), and all of her bills were on “auto pay.” It was only when the money ran out of her account that contractors discovered her mummified remains inside her Jeep – in her garage. Keys were in the ignition, but in the “off” position.
Hannelore Schmatz (German climber)
Hannelore Schmatz’ body wasn’t the only body to have stayed in its dying spot and serve as a grim reminder to other Everest climbers, but she was one of the most famous ones…
German climber Hannelore Schmatz, climbed Mount Everest in 1979 with her husband – and became the first woman to die on the mountain. Guess what happened to her? Her remains became mummified and she remained where she died in the “death zone” for years until a gust of wind finally gave her a…proper burial somewhere off the mountain. Stories say her last words (with a Sherpa at her side) were “Water, water.” Speaking of Sherpas, a couple of Sherpas died several years later while trying to bring her body down from the mountain.
Some Other Mummies of Note…
Otzi, aka “Iceman,” was discovered in the Alps in 1991. It is believed he died sometime between 3400 and 3100 BCE, and he is Europe’s oldest known mummy.
“Juanita” (Child Incan mummy)
Ancient Incans were really, really into the whole idea of child sacrifice, and “Juanita,” whom was discovered in the Andes in 1999, is just ONE example of this practice. She is thought to have been 15 years old when she died.
“Juanita” is one of three preserved child mummies found in the 1999 Andes expedition. Researchers have learned that there is evidence these children were “fattened up” beforehand – and heavily drugged at the times of their death (coca leaves and ethanol). The coca leaves were thought to aid in their breathing as they were led to the mountain tops and “given an intoxicating drink to minimize pain, fear, and resistance.” These three mummy children were left to freeze to death and were thought to be among the most well-preserved mummies in the world. Not all children sacrificed by Incas merely froze to death though – some of them died by blows to the head or strangulation.
If I were a 15-year-old girl chosen for this “job,” I think I’d want to be as intoxicated as possible in my final moments, too. More coca and more ethanol, please!
It’s easy to view these practices as barbaric now, but it all probably seemed really “normal” to people at the time…it was just something they all did. It was an important part of their culture. Centuries from now, I’m sure we’ll look like complete barbarians when viewed by people looking at our customs/practices , too. So many animal carcasses…everywhere!
I wanted to try finding some way to end this blog on a more upbeat note. I guess I’ll suggest watching Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy! Or maybe you can think of mummies as wickedly cool – and powerful – undead creatures, as they are in the Dungeons and Dragons universe! Check out THIS guy…
A Dungeons and Dragons “mummy lord.” What’s under all of those bandages, Mr. Mummy Lord? 🙂 Hmmm, some questions are better left unasked!