Dr. Warren's account of the Egyptian mummy ...

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Dr. Warren's account of the Egyptian mummy ...


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Cambridge professor Dr. John Collins Warren's description of the sarcophagus of the Egyptian mummy sent to Massachusetts General Hospital in 1823 by merchant Mr. Van Lennep, as printed in the Norfolk Beacon. Warren describes the appearance of the deceased's face, as depicted at the top of the sarcophagus. Warren describes the process of the deceased being judged by Egyptian divinities and entering the Egyptian afterlife, as depicted in carvings on the bottom half of the sarcophagus.




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Egyptian Mummy

Dr.Warren's account of the Egyptian Mummy, presented to the Massachusetts General Hospital by Mr. Van [Lanuep?].Dr.[W?] is professor of anatomy & surgery, at Cambridge

"The mummy, says Dr. Warren, was enclosed in a large [deal?] box. In opening this the outer coffin, or sarcophagus appeared, [as?] represented in the [?]. It is a wooden box, seven-feet long, and of a breadth proportioned to the length, like the proportion of the human body. The upper part of it is carved in a very striking and peculiar style, to represent a human head; and as it appears from the authors who have described the custom of the Egyptians, it was intended to be a likeness of the deseased person. The head is covered with a striped cloth or turban, on the upper part of which is painted a [globe?]. The face has the character which has generally been considered belonging to the Egyptians. The skin is of a reddish color, the eyes black, nose broad, but not badly proportioned, mouth well formed. - The face is broad and short, it has a very agreeable expression approaching to a smile. - The shoulders are invested with a highyly ornamented mantle; on the fore part of which the turban is seen depending. Below the mantle in the middle is seen the [?] globe, considered by some as the sign for eternity; by others as the emblem of [Agathordamod?] or [Chunuphis?] of the Greek authors, the oldest

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representation of the divine power admitted by the Egyptians; it may there for be believ-ed to be significant of the immortality of the [lord?] of the deceased, or else to be the symbol of the divine protection.

On each side of the globe are seen hierogly-phics, In the second compartment or tablet, below the globe, we have the representation of a most singular group, exhibiting the last judgment of the deceased and his reception by various divinities. - According to Diodones, the body of every person, from the king down, underwent this ceremony. Two and forty judges were colllected on the banks of the canal, where the relations appeared and a boat being prepared, before the body was put on it any one might bring forward accusations against the deceased, which being examined by the judges, if found to be true, prevented the body from recieving the honours of a public funeral; - but if they were thought false, the accusers were severely punished.

Then the relations finished their mourning, pronounced the praises of the deceased, and declared him about to enjoy a happy eternity with the pious in the regions

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of Hades.

In the roles found with mummies, on the coffins, and in the tombs this judgement is almost always pictured by the figure of a balance in the form of a [?], near which two personages are standing, and apparently weighing the merits of the deceased; seeming to officiate as his good and evil tendencies, each wishing to draw the scale to his own side.

Finally, the scale of the good genius preponderates, judgement is given in favour of the dead person and he is them to be introduced to the company of the Gods.

As a preliminary to this honour he is invested with some of the insignia of Osiris, if a male, or of Isis, if a female.

"In this tablet, we notice six personages on the left, who are looking to the right, and two persons on the right who are looking to the left. Behind the last of these, that is, on the extreme right, is seen the balance in the form of a crofs, with a Cerberus as the evil genius sitting on the left, and a hieroglyphic representation of the friendly divinity on the right. The figure next the balance, without any other garment than a [kittle?], is

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supposed to be that of the deceased coming from judgement, under the protection of a divinity who has hold of her hand, and seems to have taken her under her protection in order to present her to the afsembly of deities. At the head of these is the serpent, supposed by some to have been regarded as the good angel by the Egyptians. Next follows the great Osiris, the principal deity of the Egyptians, designated by his [?]. and his staff or sceptre, the emblem of power; he has the attitude of receiving the newcomer presented to him. After Osiris are seen five other personages, bearing the heads of a dog, a baboon, a hawk, a wolf, respectively, supposed to be repre-sentations of the important divinities, Anubis, Macedo, and others. - These paintings, therefore, confrim the account of the judgement after death transmitted to us by Diodones Liculus.

"The third tablet consists of hieroglyphic writing arranged in columned, extend-ed from above downwards, as was the manner of the Egyptians.

"The fourth represents the hearse bearing the coffin of the deceased. The hearse has the form of a [?], perhaps

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a lion; a style of furniture very much affected by the Egyptians. The coffin is represented as carved at the head. Below the hearse are four vessels, containing [?] and [?] substances, employed in embalming. At the head and foot is seen the [tutelary?] hawk, or vulture with stretched-out-wings, as if to protect the hearse, and between them is an eye with a tear, the symbol for mourning.

"The fifth tablet consists of heiroglyphics.

"The sixth, placed on the projecting foot of the coffins, exhibits a series of red and white stripes, twenty in number, which may be supposed to indicate the age of the deceased; on the base, supporting these, stands the [tutelary?] hawk, surrounded by heiroglyphics, and among them is distinguished the eye with a tear."

"Dr. W goes on in the same interesting style, to describe other parts of the coffin, and to give a particular account of the mummy, but our limits will not permit us to proceed."

There cannot be a more appropriate introduction to the [?] of [Rollin?] than this mummy. From "Norfolk Beacon."

Original Format

Ink on paper



“Dr. Warren's account of the Egyptian mummy ...,” Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, accessed November 28, 2022, https://cwfjdrlsc.omeka.net/items/show/608.

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