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Mummy Ham - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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October 30th, 2006


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08:09 pm - Mummy Ham
As is typical for this time of year, there was a show about mummification on the History Channel (Modern Marvels: Mummy Tech). Having nothing worth watching in Tivo, I turned it on as we ate dinner. I'd previously read about an archeologist who worked with some doctors in the mid '90s to replicate mummification on a donated cadaver – they made a mummy with traditional methods and traditional tools.

So, part of the show was about this procedure, and when they got to the bit about salting the body in natron (after the obligatory ickiness of brains and small hooks) Becca mentioned that the process reminded her a great deal of making a salt-cured ham. I was then reminded of a fascinating individual (Jacques) that I knew in LA. He was a massively tattooed Cajun biker who was also a priest of the CES (Church of the Eternal Source), Egyptian reconstructionist pagans, a rather sensible path in a climate like LA's). He was considerably more knowledgeable about ancient Egypt and Egyptian religion than all but one of the many classics and archeology professors I've known and was full of fascinating tidbits of information.

Becca's comment reminded me of when Jacques had gone on a lengthy digression about Egyptian cuisine and how it amazed and dismayed him that they had so much wonderful food and they never invented or made ham. According to all records he'd seen, they did not smoke or salt cure meat. Putting these two statements together, it occurred to me that the reason might well have been that salt-curing meat was far to close to salt (or at least natron) curing a mummy. I must admit, the texture of the recently made mummy certainly looked like a traditionally-made ham in the photos, and I can most definitely see not using techniques designed to make soul and body immortal on one's food. I have no idea if this is true, but it is definitely an amusing and plausible theory.
Current Mood: amusedamused

(4 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:fireincarnation
Date:October 31st, 2006 01:04 pm (UTC)
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Very interesting idea.
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From:rjgrady
Date:October 31st, 2006 01:15 pm (UTC)
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Then again, the process was used (with less care) on servants, pack animals, and so forth. Rather than religious hesitations, it may have been a matter of the priesthood holding a monopoly on the process.

Also, roasted meats would keep well in a desert clime on their own pretty well.

[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:October 31st, 2006 09:36 pm (UTC)
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Rather than religious hesitations, it may have been a matter of the priesthood holding a monopoly on the process.

I have difficulty imagining that in a nation with a seacoast and therefore lots of salt, that the preservative powers of salting meat could be secret.

Then again, the process was used (with less care) on servants, pack animals, and so forth.

True, but it was still a funerary practice and in general how people treat food and how people treat the dead are very different indeed.
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From:earlofstomp
Date:October 31st, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC)
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I like your addition of 2 & 2 here and I cna agree with your observations. IF salt curing something was meant for precious things, one would just not do it to their evening meal...

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