I always answered, "Nope, but do you want to know why people used to think they did?"
Even the older kids who had smiled indulgently at the question, nodded their heads.
Well, I began. Ancient tomb robbers knew a secret--that the Priests of Anubis hid special amulets all throughout the mummy's linen wrappings. These amulets were often made of gold and precious stones. In Cleopatra Rules! I called these amulets "lucky charms" because they were meant to keep the dead safe during their journey to the afterworld.
Unfortunately, greedy tomb robbers knew about these amulets. So, when they broke into a tomb, they often lifted the coffin lid, took the mummy out and patted it down in search of amulets. Or, if they were in a big hurry, they picked up the mummy, tucked it under one arm and walked right out with it--along with whatever other goodies they could carry--into the desert.
There they would unwrap the body, steal the amulets, and leave the unwrapped mummy to disappear under the changing sands. So when modern archaeologists first entered "newly" discovered tombs, they were be shocked to find coffin lids thrown off as if the mummies themselves had sat up and done so. Sometimes, the partially unwrapped mummy was on the other side of the room, looking as if it had taken a stroll. Or, creepier, the body was gone altogether.
Rumors spread. The mummies were magic! They walked around at night! They cursed and punished all those that had entered their tombs! Hollywood jumped in and mummy horror movies were born.
Now we know better. We know that the bodies were disturbed primarily for purposes of robbery.
It was interesting to watch the reactions. They little ones looked relieved, but the upper elementary and middle school kids looked intensely curious. They wanted more--they wanted to hear about real Egyptian curses versus movie ones, about WHY the ancient Egyptians believed what they believed (and why some--like the robbers--did not).
|A fifth-grade fan tries on my helmet.|
Yeah, I'm short. What can I say?
Story-times were limited so I couldn't answer all their questions. But you could see the fire of curiosity shining in their eyes. Afterward, some of the parents would thank me. "This is so fascinating," one grandfather commented.
Still in kid-mode, I responded with a big grin and said, "I KNOW, right?!"
I love what I do.