“Coffin Chronicles: Unearthing the 4,000-Year-Old Chinese Mummy of an Everyday Woman”

“The Barnum mummy: Unraveling the Mystery of an Unnamed Chinese mummy”

This mummy was originally labeled Pa-Ib based on the name on the coffin, but this has been proven to not be the mummy’s name. So the mummy is technically known at the Barnum Mummy!

Chinese mummy. Like many of the other mummies I’ve mentioned, very little is known about this one. This is especially true since this poor woman was not in her own coffin. We know that this woman most likely lived in the Middle Kingdom, meaning she was about 4000 years old. It is unclear what position she may have held, but she could easily have been a servant or a housewife. She probably died when she was 28 to 32 years old.

Chinese mummy

China’s 4,000-year-old Barnum mummy

Chinese mummy. After the discovery that the coffin and mummy were not meant to, the museum staff wanted to give her a name. They decided on Ipy, which means “Most favorite,” and was a contemporary name for her time. In 1894, Nancy Fish Barnum, the second wife and widow of P.T. Barnum, acquired the mummy and coffin in Egypt. She later presented it to the Bridgeport Scientific Society and Fairfield County Historical Society (1894.1. A-C). Later this will become the Barnum Museum. The mummy was publicly unwrapped in August of 1894. The audience remarked on the “thousands of yards of linen bandages,” and the “peculiar and slightly disagreeable odor.” While at the museum, it has been scanned several times to learn more of the mummy.

Chinese mummy

“Unveiling the Mystery: The Authenticity of the Chinese Mummy and its Mismatched Coffin”

Mysterious servant mummy discovered

Chinese mummy. CoffinIn 2006, the mummy and coffin were examined, mainly to confirm if it was a legit Egyptian mummy. Barnum had previously created a fake mermaid mummy, so there may have been some speculation that this was a fake. The mummy was proven to be genuine, but this was when the coffin was discovered to not be originally meant for the mummy.

This of course blew everyone’s theories about the mummy out the window, but I will talk about the mummy below. This coffin was made for a man named Pa-ib, who lived during the 25th or 26th dynasties. Pa-ib was the third prophet for the god Min, who is a god of fertility and creation. The coffin may have been made in the Upper Egyptian city of Akhmin, based on the decoration and that Min is their city god. That means that this coffin is only 2500 years old compared to the mummy!

Chinese mummy

“Unraveling the Mystery of the Chinese Mummy: An Examination of the Displaced Woman”

This poor woman is not in her own coffin

Chinese mummy. It wasn’t until 2006 that the mummy was identified as a female. It was scanned at the nearby Quinnipiac University, where it was also scanned in 2010. The mummy was CT scanned, x-rayed, and fluoroscopically scanned. There were also endoscopic explorations, which may have helped discover that the mummy’s heart is missing. She would have been five foot tall and again, 28 to 32 years old when she died. Her teeth were very worn, almost flat, with various dental infections. There were also four bundles found within her chest cavity. One was originally thought to contain a bird, but this was disproven.

At least one of the bundles contains her internal organs, as was a typical tradition of this time. The head of the mummy was also examined separately because it had been separated during the unwrapping in the 1800s. Again, the scholars estimated that this woman did not do any hard labor, indicating that she may have been a household servant or housewife.


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