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Extra Credit Posts: Spring 2011

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Extra Credit Student Example

The Mummy – An Analysis by Jill Allison

The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weis and Arnold Vosloo was released in 1999 and focused on the premise of raising a long dead mummy from the dead by mishap. The mummy is the former High Priest Imohtep (Vosloo) who was condemned after stealing Pharaoh Seti’s concubine, Anck Su Namun. The accidental raising of Imohtep was done by Evie (Weis) after reading from the Book of the Dead at the Egyptian site, Hamunaptra. Once raised, Imohtep attempts to reincarnate Anck Su Namun while the others try to stop him. The climax reveals that while Imohtep loves Anck Sum Namun through eternity, she is not willing to risk her life as he was. The movie ends with Evie and Rick (Fraser) leaving Hamunaptra after successfully stopping Imohtep.

While the movie has some loose truths in it, several misrepresentations of Ancient Egypt are present. There was a Book of the Dead but it was for funerary rites. Egyptians took the passage to the afterlife very serious. As portrayed in the movie, the organs were removed and placed in jars while the body was mummified. An entire lifetime was spent planning for their journey to the afterlife and no expense was spared. Pharaoh’s such as Seti were buried in elaborate chambers with many items believed necessary in the afterlife. Pharaoh Seti’s tomb is one of the longest tombs in the Valley of the Kings and recently new passages have been found. While Seti only ruled for a decade or so, his death was not murder or violent and his son, Ramses II took his place as ruler.

The cultural aspects of Seti’s time included the return to polytheism. His grandfather was Akhenaten who attempted to bring Egypt to single God worshipping. This alienated many of their citizens and both Seti and his father Ramsesses I.  It has been said he was uncle to Moses. One great accomplishment of Pharaoh Seti’s reign was the fact he used quarry’s to supply material to build obelisks and large statues. His own tomb was decorated with many colorful scenes reflecting the time. The movie had several ornate scenes of decorated walls.

However, all was not ideal during the reign. Seti spent many years fighting and regaining territory from the Hittites. The opening scene with Seti and his chariot implicates that he was a strong and powerful ruler. While Seti only stood 5’7” tall, he was a strong adversary. History shows Seti only had one wife, the Queen Tuya. Many Pharaohs had multiple wives and some had concubines, but there was no indication of Seti having any significant other than his Queen. The early Egyptian’s were family oriented and the middle class typically was monogamous.

In addition, the High Priest’s of the time were considered messenger’s of the God’s and occasionally could be Pharaoh’s advisors as the movie depicted. Daily religious worship was the norm and this worship included several Gods. Similar to Catholicism, the priests were many and at different levels. While the movie depicts High Priest Imohtep as the owner of the Book of the Dead, this isn’t who controlled this book. The embalmers had copies of the Book of the Dead and there were references to resurrection. The reference from the movie to the city of the dead (Hamunaptra) is entirely fictional. While Hamunaptra did exist, it was never in Egypt. 

In conclusion, the movie was entertaining, but if you wish to seek more factual details, contact your local museum or curator for assistance. There are many areas to explore these subjects including Egyptian websites, cultural events in your town and travel. Don’t wait for the mummy to come to you. Go to him!

Works Cited

The Mummy. Dir. Stephen Sommers.” Universal Pictures: 1999, Film.

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