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Did You Know?

Egyptian mummies (or pieces of them) started arriving in America in the 1700s. They were curiosities, souvenirs brought home by tourists, sometimes given to universities or museums. In 1823, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, acquired one to decorate its operating room and to help raise money for poor patients.

Not all of the ancient mummies exported from Egypt were put on view for the public or kept for scientists to study. For centuries, and even as late as the 1900s, pharmacists ground up mummies and used the resulting powder as an ingredient in medicine. Pulverized mummy also went into making brown paint.