The Middle East @ Work

Still dead after all these years…

Meaw Mar 3, 2008

After visiting the Egyptian museum, I have decided to stipulate in my will that under no circumstances, should I be mummified when I die.

I actually debated whether to even enter the Royal Mummy rooms. My colleague, Miguel, stayed put. He said these people were buried in a specific place and did not intend to have their remains gawked at under a glass case 3,000 years later. Pretty good point, but I am here to experience Egypt in all its… gory. So, morbid curiosity got the best of me, and I paid the 20 US dollars to visit the two rooms.

First of all, it was fascinating. The Ancient Egyptians went to extraordinary lengths to preserve the bodies of the dead. One woman’s face was packed with soda and fat to make her appear more “life-like”. Unfortunately, they used too much soda and fat, and the result is that she appears disfigured beyond belief and very definitely dead-like.

But other mummies looked like they could rise up out of their case right then and there. I got a good look at one of Egypt’s greatest kings, Ramses II. He lived a long life for a man at that time – well into his 80’s. 3,000 years later, he kind of resembles a man in his 80’s. Or 200’s, tops. For some reason, I imagined him sitting in a rocking chair reaching out for my hand, as if i were his grandchild. It was then that I realized I shouldn’t stay in the mummy room very long.

In the second mummy room, I found myself alone for a couple minutes. This gave me a top-notch case of the willies. I was standing in the middle of a deadly quiet room with a dozen dead people. Each one had the hint of an expression frozen on their faces. For some, it looked like serenity or at least fulfillment. For others, it was more like – for crying out loud, please, get me out of this wrap. One woman had a mummified bundle next to her. When she was excavated, archaeologists thought perhaps it was her child. No, it turns out it was her pet baboon. And now, the two of them were in a room alone with me.

I thought about what these people’s lives were like and wished I could know. I paid my respects to their unique culture. I thought about my own mortality and what will happen after I die. I decided it will not be mummification. I’d prefer to live on in the memories of people I loved and not in a temperature-controlled glass case with who knows what expression on my face.

Besides, I wouldn’t have a pet baboon to keep me company.

— Scott Jagow

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