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Forever Mummified

The ancient Egyptians believed that death could be overcome, but their afterlife was no cakewalk — it demanded rigorous preparation. The Egyptians held that the ka, a spiritual essence, required food and sustenance after death. And that was just the ka essence — the ba and kha essences had their own special needs. Before dead pharaohs could take up residence in the stars, they went through a postmortem spa treatment: Their carcasses were bathed in wine, stripped of all internal organs but the heart, mummified, and buried with buffets. Commoners had little chance of passing into the afterlife, unless the royals bestowed upon them the necessary accouterments. The inequality of the Egyptians’ afterlife, and their rituals around life and death, are the focus of the Norton Museum’s superb exhibition of more than 100 Egyptian treasures — including a real mummy — borrowed from the famous collection at the Brooklyn Museum. And from March 26 — July 17, the Norton also draws on the Brooklyn Museum to showcase ancient Chinese mummies and tombs.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Feb. 13. Continues through May 8, 2011
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Penn Bullock

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