The museums in Britain have banned the word ‘mummy’ to describe the ancient Egyptian human remains on display, according to a report in CNN. The museums have claimed they don’t want to offend the dead people and “undermine their humanity”, the outlet further said. Instead, they are using terms such as “mummified person” or the individual’s name to emphasise that they were once living people. One of the museums in England even published a blog post that described why they have decided to change the language.
Using the term “mummified remains” can encourage visitors to think of the individual who once lived, the museums told CNN.
“We have human remains from around the world, and we may vary the terminology we use depending on… how they’ve been preserved. We have natural mummies from pre-dynastic Egypt, so we’ll refer to them as natural mummies because they haven’t been artificially mummified,” said Daniel Antoine, keeper of the department for Egypt and Sudan at London’s British Museum.
Jo Anderson, assistant keeper of archaeology at the Great North Museum in Newcastle, said in a blog post in 2021 that using different language can prevent depiction of mummies in popular culture. Such things have tended to “undermine their humanity” through “legends about the mummy’s curse” and by portraying them as “supernatural monsters.”
Museum manager Adam Goldwater told CNN in a statement, “By displaying the mummies more sensitively we hope our visitors will see her remains for what they really are – not an object of curiosity, but a real human who was once alive and had a very specific belief about how her body should be treated after death.”
The British Museum, meanwhile, said it has not banned the use of the word mummy but now uses ‘mummified remains of…’ (along with the name of a person) who has been mummified.
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