My name is Sam and for the past week I have been participating in work experience here at the British Museum. I have been aiding in the preparation for the International Training Programme. My main interests include sports, especially cricket, golf and tennis as well as maths and learning interesting things in general, for example the Ancient Lives new discoveries exhibition that I am writing on. The exhibition as a whole provides a wide insight into the lives of the ancient Egyptians and Sudanese. It does this by using the latest technology to provide 3-dimensional imagery controlled by the user to literarily ‘unravel’ the secrets held within the mummies. This provides a clear representation of how these people lived their lives as well as how they looked after the deceased members of their society. From preserved food inside the stomach of the mummies giving information about their diet, showing how beliefs at the time led to preparing and protecting their dead for the afterlife, and also showing that these were varied with certain classes and time-periods.
My favourite part of this exhibition is the very first mummy. This is because I learnt many new things from this, such as, mummies can be preserved naturally as well as artificially. Also, what surprised me was how this young man was preserved perhaps the best out of all of them, even though it hadn’t meant to be. This is shown by the fact that its internal organs were preserved outstandingly due to the heat and aridity of the desert.
Another thing that I found interesting about the exhibition was how technology has advanced enough for us to estimate things like ages. For example, in 1800, mummies were investigated by being unravelled, however it was found that the positions of items and bones was disturbed using this technique and therefore valuable information was lost, this meant that the bodies were kept, uncovered, especially in the British Museum, until new technologies arose in around the 1960’s – 1990’s, such as CT scans and X-rays. These enabled bio-archaeologists to be given an accurate 3D image of the body formed from many 2D cross-sectional images, meaning that they could both examine structures such as the skull and see the placement of objects and bones without disturbing them in any way which would have been done in an unravelling process.
Apart from the last room of the exhibition, where three preserved skulls are compared on interactive screens, there is not a lot of comparison done throughout the display, especially between social stature and time-zones. Therefore, I advise taking note of differences in preservation across varying social environments. This is because there are major changes in any items placed with the deceased and in the embalming process.
The family trail leaflet provided at the start of the exhibition provides a great brief overview that is user-friendly for young people who may be learning about this for the very first time.