While mummification was apart of many ancient cultures, the most well-known mummies come from ancient Egypt. Pa-Ib, an ancient Egyptian mummy, was donated to the museum by P.T. Barnum's second wife, Nancy Fish, after she reportedly obtained it from the "American Consul at Cairo" in 1896.
At the time she obtained Pa-Ib, the only way to learn about mummies was to look at and touch them. Institutions all over the world, including the Bridgeport Scientific Society, hosted unwrapping parties for science and entertainment. Unfortunately, removing the wrappings from a mummy was both destructive and irreversible. At the time, wrappings and many amulets found within were given away like party favors.
Though Pa-Ib was unwrapped at such an event, her existence offers a rare view of 19th century scientific practices as few other mummies survived this treatment.
Visit our Egyptian Exhibit.
The Barnum Museum was able to confirm that Pa-Ib was a genuine mummy thanks to diagnostic imaging performed by Ronald Beckett and Gerald Conlogue (of "The Mummy Road Show") with an initial study in 2006.
In January 2010, another round of x-rays were performed at Quinnipiac University using a Toshiba 64-Slice Scanner. The new scans indicated that there were three packets inside of Pa-Ib's body, the largest of which contained her organs. Weave patterns were evident on the cloth wrappings, which may help to better identify what region Pa-Ib came from and a small swatch of skin was located that will be used to better determine her age at the time of death.
Visit our exhibit The Mummy and Modern Technology.
The Barnum Museum
820 Main Street
Hours: 11-3 Thur & Fri
The People's United Bank Gallery, located at the back of the building is open and free to the public to view the restoration and conservation process. The Barnum Museum's historic building remains closed to the public following tornado damage suffered on June 24, 2010.
Visit www.barnum-museum.org for more information.