Pesed Reports

The Pesed Reports: Pesed to Return to Westminster Without Husband

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

(as shared through Dr. Samuel Famerie, Westminster curator of cultural artifacts)

Since early June I have been lodging at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Mass., as part of a larger exhibit that included two other Egyptian mummies (both from my hometown of Akhmim) and more than 150 other Egyptian artifacts from the Westminster College artifact collection.

The experience was exhilarating, but also disappointing. The exhilaration was that I had some 18,000 inquisitive people admiring me. The disappointing part was that my hope for connection with the older male Egyptian mummy also on display failed to materialize. I had hoped to bring a new marriage to my afterlife but he was a little short on vision and brains, failing to note my beauty and desirability as a wife. There is an obvious reason for this: his brains were removed during mummification and he may have glass eyes.

With the closing of the exhibit I will be returning to Westminster College while the other artifacts will be going to the Washington State Museum in Tacoma. At first I was perplexed as to why I was being left behind, but now I understand. The Tacoma area has a substantial Native American population. Out of deference to their concerns about dealing with human remains I will return to my New Wilmington home for the time being. I will be available for public observation at a new site-the main floor of the Hoyt Science Center, near the rear exit to the former Mack Science Library. Toward the end of the summer of 2011 I will probably visit another exhibit venue accompanied by the other artifacts.

Westminster's Cultural Artifacts Committee, Beta Beta Beta biology honor society, and the Department of Biology are planning a gala homecoming event in honor of my return. It will be held Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Phillips Lecture Hall. Featured will be a presentation on human and animal mummies around the world (I did not know that there were mummies in other areas of the world) and ancient Egyptian burial practices, followed by refreshments. The event is free and open to the public.

Hope to see you there!

The Pesed Reports: Out of the Shadows and into the Limelight

April 13, 2010

(as shared through Dr. Samuel Famerie, Westminster curator of cultural artifacts)

As an Egyptian mummy I appear to be in the midst of some very invigorating experiences. Last December, S.J. Wolfe published her well-researched book, Mummies in Nineteenth Century America. My journey to America is noted and two photographs of me are shown. I must say, I look pretty good for a 2,300-year-old woman.

But the best is yet to come. Many American orgaizations/institutions hold periodic reunions at various locales. This is an interesting custom. I am about to embark on a journey that will enable me to participate in such an activity at the Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield, Mass). It will be a reunion with two other Egyptian mummies from my hometown of Akhmim. We were all led through the House of Death and thence into the afterlife by the jackel headed god Anubus. The three of us will be part of an exhibit entitled "Wrapped! The Search for the Essential Mummy." And would you believe it, the other two are father and son!

It will be nice to exchange thoughts with them about life back home in Akhmim and our afterlife in the Fields of Yalu (somewhat equivalent to the native American's "Happy Hunting Grounds") along the celestial Nile. Of course this will be done by mental telepathy. I wonder if the older man is handsome. Perhaps he would be interested in the ancient Egyptian custom of "breaking a jar." This activity seals a marriage. Far from being the horrifying mummies seen in the movies, I am quite comely. The other mummies are from Vasser College and the Berkshire Museum.

The exhibit also includes about 100 high quality Westminster artifacts such as animal mummies and funerary items such as scarabs, necklaces, amulets, vessels, figurines and headdresses, as well as historical documents related to the trade and study of Egyptian mummies and artifacts. The exhibit is scheduled to open June 19 and runs until Halloween. Visit the Berkshire Museum for more information.


The Pesed Reports Revisited: The Resurrection of a Face

March 27, 2006

In Her Own Words (as shared through Dr. Samuel Famerie, Westminster curator of cultural artifacts)...

Some four years have passed since my return from the Egypt, the Untold Journey exhibit at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts (Harrisburg, PA). While there some 30,000 people, mostly school children, came to visit me. As a preliminary to that event my thoughts were transmitted via mental telepathy to the Curator of Westminster College's artifacts collection. In these reports the results of my medical work-up were shared with readers.

My condition, like that of your 85-year-old grandmother, was not good. The X-rays and CT Scans indicated many senior citizen type physical infirmities. The medical reports are accessible to the public at Knowledgeable people revealed my age and innermost physical secrets. The Federal Right to Privacy legislation protects the living against such revelations, why not the deceased? A mummy must be a second class citizen. A girl just can't keep her secrets!

The general public has seen my insides, but not the outside. Suddenly, that has all changed. Recently, the mummies of my countrymen, King Tut and the College of Wooster mummy Ta-irty-bai, were CT Scanned and the images were used to create busts. I must say they were handsome individuals. Not to be outdone, I was scanned for a second time this past summer at College Fields MRI. This might be viewed by some a game of one-ups-manship. Scanning yields cross-sectional images of the body. Both of the abovementioned scans consisted of fewer than 1800 images, mine was about 2500.

The images were used by scientists at the University of Manitoba to construct a skull. It was forwarded to noted forensic sculptor Frank Bender to complete a bust. The greater number of images produces a bust with more refined features. In my case, the sculptor also factored in aging and the effect of an arid climate on the skin. Unlike the other mummy busts, my wrinkles are readily apparent. Alas, I had no Nivea Lotion or Oil of Olay. I also have a sculpted hair piece.

If you would like to observe the real me in my matronly years, please attend my public unveiling. It will occur Tuesday, April 4, at 7 p.m. in the Philips Lecture Hall of the Hoyt Science Building on the Westminster College campus in New Wilmington, Pa.

Attention dirty old men! Unless there is a Super Bowl style "costume malfunction", the unveiling will not the same as a disrobing and the bust to be revealed will be from the shoulders up, not the shoulders down.

Hope we see each other at the unveiling!


Pesed Report XIII

February 12, 2003

It has been about a year since my last communication. In that time I have settled in and reacquainted myself with the routine at the Mack Science Library.

While I have been relaxing, several additions have been made to display areas on campus. My medical report has been posted on the display case and a replica of my stele stands at my feet. Just around the corner is an illuminated view box showcasing my X-rays. They are back lighted by florescent tubes which are activated by a motion sensor. The infirmities noted in the medical report are clearly visible. While I shy away from revealing my inner feelings I have no aversions about students viewing my skeleton.

In a display case near my feet are several mummified animals. In historic Egyptian times these would be sold by priests to religious pilgrims and ultimately left as votive offerings in temples. Debased priests are apparently not unique to modern America. The X-rays reveal that one of the mummified falcons may be fraudulent. Those dastardly priests were deceiving the pilgrims.

Since I am not ambulatory I am unable to see the other new display that deals with Egypt. In the lobby of the McGill Library is an exhibit focused on that versatile plant which flourishes along the banks of the Nile, papyrus. There are some fragments of papyrus with Greek inscriptions. There are also replicas and photographs of ancient tomb art on papyrus.

In the late 1950s anthropologist Thor Hyerdahl built a papyrus boat for trans-Atlantic passage to prove that the ancient Egyptians could have crossed the ocean. Included in this display are pieces of papyrus stem that were collected at the site where his boat, the 'Ra,' was built.


The Pesed Report XII -- The Mummy's Return: From the Limelight to the Shadows

February 18, 2002

On August 8th 2001 I departed from Westminster College for the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Little did I know what was in store for me. Over the next ten weeks I underwent a thorough examination including x-rays and a CT scan. During that time personnel at the Center, under the guidance of Dr. Jonathan Elias, prepared for a new exhibit "Egypt: the Untold Journeys."

The exhibit included jewelry, ushebtis and other artifacts suitable for a person of my status. Much time was spent preparing descriptive materials, building display cases and publicizing the exhibit.

After my debut at a grand opening reception (October 19, 2001) I settled in for a three month stay. Children and adults came to admire, if not adore me, and the other items on display. During my stay, which ended January 20 2002, they came in droves. In the fall quarter of 2000 just under 20,000 people visited the Center, but in the fall of 2001 the number was more than 9,000 higher. I like to think this increase was because of my presence. Some viewers were so enamoured that they made a return visit near the end of my stay to say goodbye.

In my earlier jottings I related personal medical information. However, I have held back one little item. An earlier Pesed Report indicated that, according to College folklore, I had been decapitated and my head sometimes was found in a coed's bed. Nothing could be further from the truth. A thorough analysis of the x-rays indicates that my head was never detached. So much for folklore!

After three months in the limelight I returned to my home at Westminster College (February 5, 2002), where unfortunately I will be in the shadows both literally and figuratively. There will be no spotlight on me in my display case, but that is not the major problem. I am saddened because some in the College community are either unaware or indifferent to my presence. This remains true in spite of all the recent publicity.

For the foreseeable future I will remain ensconced in my display case in the Mack Library of the Hoyt Science Resources Center. Perhaps opportunities for additional off campus travel will arise, but that remains to be seen.


Pesed Report XI -- Lamentations

October 30, 2001

Dear Diary:

During the first several days of the exhibit at the Whitaker Center hundreds of learners, mostly young people, have viewed the exhibit. I have heard that first week attendance at the Center has exceeded projections by almost 400%.

President Williamson made the long journey to Harrisburg to view the displays and engage in the interactive exhibits. He has seen me on a number of occasions at Westminster College, but had to drive many miles to see all these Egyptian artifacts on display.

After the Harrisburg exhibit, I will return to my place of prominence in the Mack Library, but most of the other items in the exhibit will be returned to storage because of inadequate display space. Too bad! There are many aspects of my civilization that should be accessible to the College community. Parenthetically, I wonder how many members of the community know I exist and have made an effort to view me?

Much to my chagrin, my presence may be frightening to some. I overheard an adult note that during his preschool years, he and his friends took a wide path around my display area because they were afraid of me.

There is a male mummy from my hometown, Akhmim, on exhibit at the Buffalo Museum of Science. My biggest regret is that I have been unable to confirm the relationship between him and myself. There are indications he may be my son or grandson. Inscriptions on both our coffins point in that direction. A stela (limestone tablet) in the Cairo museum seems to support the possibility. Also, a papyrus scroll amid the holdings of the Seminary of the Reformed Presbyterian Church at New Brunswick, NJ seems to indicate a connection.

The only way to confirm the relationship is through DNA analysis, but the possibility of doing such on both of us is slim. We are so many miles from home yet relatively close geographically speaking. I would really like to know more about this possible offspring.


Pesed Report X

October 19, 2001

Dear Diary:

It's nearly midnight and I am exhausted. Tonight was my coming out party at the Whitaker Center. I had been in the presence of important people in my native Egypt, but never so many in such a short time. There were hundreds of people from various walks of life. My curators from Westminster College were here, as were my doctors from the Pinnacle Health System. There were important politicians and benefactors of the Whitaker Center and Westminster. I really enjoyed listening to them converse about me, and also about contemporary American life.

Thanks to the efforts of my retinue, the exhibit, Egypt: Untold Journeys is a spectacular event. The Whitaker curators have created displays that depict my ancient home. Spectators who are alert will learn much about my homeland through the various exhibits of tools, jewelry, papyrus, ushebtis (figurines), photographs, sketches and paintings. They will learn even more through the interactive exhibits. I may join some of them in the Imax Theatre to reminisce about my land and times through the movie, The Mysteries of Ancient Egypt.

This has been a learning experience for me. I had often wondered how I came to reside at Westminster College. Now I know. Dr. Jonathan Elias explained it in his descriptive materials. I experienced modern medical procedures. I frequently heard my Westminster curators discussing missionaries. This was a strange word. Until now I never knew the meaning of the word or about the wonderful things they did for my people and homeland.

I must sign off now because tomorrow will be a busy day. While there were important people here tonight, the group that will come tomorrow and for the next 90 days may be more important. They are America's youth, its future leaders. I have a big responsibility to enhance their education.


Pesed Report IX -- Show Time!

October 12, 2001

The hour is imminent! Pesed has been on a working vacation at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg since August 9. Her belongings were shipped a month earlier. Ever since then her retinue has been fastidious in preparing for a spectacular coming out party, the exhibit Egypt: The Untold Journeys. They have been researching and creating descriptors and illustrations to support the exhibit. Pesed has been to the hospital for X-ray and CAT Scan procedures. Her fine linen has been subjected to radio carbon dating. The information from these procedures will be used to develop interactive experiences for a primary audience of school children.

The exhibit will open to the general public October 20. The previous evening the Whitaker Center will host an opening reception. Over 800 potential admirers have been invited to the event. Pesed will be in her glory with so many important people admiring her. Invitees include the governor, other state and local government officials, doctors from the Pinnacle Heath System, a range of scientists, clergy, educators and other professionals, and trustees and benefactors of the Center and of Westminster College.

Pesed Report VIII

October 5, 2001

Report VII traced the journey of Pesed’s soul to the paradise of the celestial river. This report describes the journey of her physical remains.

According to recently completed radio carbon dating of Pesed’s linen wrappings, her mummification took place some time between 300 and 220 B.C. She was interred in a vast necropolis at the city of Akhmim. The Egyptians devised mummification more than 6,000 years ago. Contrary to popular belief, hundreds of millions of remains were mummified. The process involved removing the brains and the viscera, the latter to be embalmed. The cadaver was then packed with natron to draw off the moisture. After about 70 days, the natron was removed and the corpse dressed with oils and herbs. The embalmed viscera, wrapped in bundles, were then inserted into the abdomen. Lastly the mummy was wrapped with a thousand or so yards of line. The extent of the process and burial site was dependent upon the deceased’s station in life.

In the early 1880s, the Akhmim necropolis with its thousands of mummies was unearthed by an Italian archeologist. Being presented with the opportunity to buy a mummy, Presbyterian missionary Rev. John Giffen, an 1871 graduate, purchased one named Pesed for his alma mater. This was 1885. Rev. John Alexander (D.D. 1910), a colleague, escorted the mummy to the United States. After considerable difficulty on the steamship and in the Port of New York, Pesed arrived in New Wilmington later that year.

Pesed’s next 115 years were somewhat hectic. In early 1886, she took a brief excursion to Greenville to be the “star” of the Citizen’s Hose Company Exposition. During the ensuring years on campus, she was moved from building to building and sometimes from one storage room to another. She suffered the indignity of decapitation, and was rumored to have spent more than one night in a dormitory room.

In the mid-1980s, Pesed’s fortunes began to change. She was restored to her rightful position of prominence by Westminster student Susan Grady (1985), who engineered a campaign to raise money for mummy restoration and a display case. A few years later, Egyptologist Dr. Jonathan Ellias became aware of Pesed’s presence at the College through contacts with an attendee of the New Wilmington Missionary Conference.

Dr. Elias subsequently became Director of Exhibits at the newly created Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg. Through his efforts, an Egyptian exhibit with Pesed as the focus was devised. In August 2001, under the supervision of Dr. Elias, Pesed was transported to Harrisburg in a controlled atmosphere van. She will be on exhibit at the Center beginning October 20. The exhibit, which includes about 150 artifacts from the Westminster College collection, will continue for 90 days.

Pesed Report VII

September 26, 2001

Pesed’s afterlife involved two journeys: 1) the journey of the soul to the Fields of Yalu (paradise) and 2) the physical journeys of her mummified remains. The physical journeys, which brought her to New Wilmington and Harrisburg, will be the subject of the next report.

Upon death, Pesed’s soul was separated from her body and taken on a hazardous journey to the place of the Last judgment. The journey begins with navigation of the perilous river of the Underworld. Her loving guide is the jackal headed god Anubis. The travelers must evade giant baboons, dragons, and nasty serpents. After which there are the trials at the seven gates and trials at the ten pylons -- all this, just to appear before the judgment seat of Osiris. The Last Judgment, consists of weighing her heart against the feather of truth. The soul must show that it has never done evil to anyone. It must also show application of a form of the “Golden Rule.” Ammut, the crocodile headed monster, is waiting below for her failure. Being the fine lady that she was, Pesed’s heart was lighter than the feather. She passed through to the paradise along the celestial river in the Fields of Yalu (Fields of the Blessed).

Pesed Report VI

September 21, 2001

This report digresses from the usual format of discussing what is happening in Pesed's afterlife. Questions have been raised about the process and outcomes of CAT Scanning. These questions are probably best answered through the pictorial description presented below courtesy of the Harrisburg Patriot News.

Click image to enlarge.

Pesed Report V (The Agony and the Ecstasy)

September 14, 2001

Report IV revealed some findings from the in-depth analysis of the CAT scans and X-rays. Additional analysis of the skeletal system images indicates that Pesed gave birth on at least one occasion. Those of us who have reared children are very familiar with the agony and the ecstasy associated with bringing children into the world and raising them to adulthood.

We have already reported on some of her afflictions at the time of death. The images also indicate that her body was debilitated. This was probably the result of upper and lower jaw abscesses and many missing teeth. Evidence pertaining to heart failure, renal failure, and similar organic breakdowns is unobtainable. Thus, there is no way to speculate on these as a potential cause of death. The debilitated condition could be a result of fighting the septicemia from the abscesses or malnourishment because of her inability to chew. The available evidence leads several physician friends of mine to speculate that septicemia was the cause of death since antibiotics were unavailable. The jury is still out. Whatever the cause, Pesed must have been in agony during her last years.

The Judeo-Christian tradition places great stress on the “ecstasy” of the hereafter. The same was true in Ptolemaic Egypt where the belief was that passing muster at the Last Judgment would open the gate to “paradise.”

Pesed Report IV

September 7, 2001

In contemporary society, it is a woman’s right to conceal her age or even “fudge” a little about it. Poor Pesed. In spite of her best efforts, modern science, in the form of scanning and x-rays of her skeletal system, has revealed the truth. The age reported several weeks ago was over 50. A more in depth analysis of the images places her age at between 55 and 65. That’s very old for Ptolemaic Egypt, and not exactly young in contemporary times.

To visualize her carriage at the time of death observe the typical bent over female senior citizen in our time. Pesed had lumbar degeneration and compaction fractures of the spine. There was also evidence of a Dowager’s Hump, a condition caused by osteoporosis.

The legs were less degenerated than the trunk of her body. It might be postulated that this was because at some point in life, she extensively exercised her legs. The written record indicates that she was a musician. Could it be that Egyptian musicians were also dancers?

In spite of the fact that her secrets are one by one being revealed, Pesed remains as alluring and charming as ever.

Watch for Pesed Report V. In it the writer will speculate about her cause of death.

Pesed Report III

August 31, 2001

Even though her secrets are being revealed by modern medical science, Pesed the mummy remains an undaunted mystery woman. Other secrets are likely to be revealed, but in the meantime, she is observing events leading toward her Oct. 20 coming out party.

Pesed is enjoying the surroundings at the strangely shaped Harrisburg “pyramid,” the Whitaker Center. The Center, like places of interment in her native Egypt, is stocked with many of the necessities for her current after life.

Ushabtis (figurines) of Egypt’s beneficent gods (Osiris, Isis, Horus, etc.) are present to oversee the proceedings. If Pesed becomes bored with the activity, she could pass the time by reading from the papyrus documents that accompanied her. And if she is bilingual, she might even read from a cuneiform block. An oil lamp will provide illumination. Pesed has a flask for a refreshing beverage. She has fine beads and amulets to adorn her and finely carved scarabs for good luck.

The mummy has a cache of Ptolemic coins, which might be used to buy fine clothing in the nearby shops of Strawberry Square or for a meal at the exquisite restaurant.

When she becomes homesick, a glance at “Gib” McGill’s pastel of her hometown, Akhmim, relieves the feeling. Should she become lonely, there are mummified cats and kittens to lie on her lap and a falcon to perch on her shoulder. These and other artifacts are all on loan to the Whitaker “pyramid” by Westminster College.

The living members of the entourage are busily preparing for the coming out party. They are reviewing medical data, planning additional medical procedures, developing interactive exhibits, getting the “pyramid” ready for the party, and telling the world about the journeys of Westminster missionaries in Egypt, Egypt’s path to civilization and the experiences of Pesed.

Watch for future reports on Pesed’s experiences and condition.

Pesed Report II

August 21, 2001

Pesed’s condition may be more serious than originally expected. The x-rays and CAT Scan indicate that she has no brains. It has also been determined that her viscera had been removed, embalmed, wrapped in bundles, and put back inside her body cavity. There also appears to be another bundle in the body cavity, which may contain a funerary papyrus. No wonder she is not feeling well, with no brains and a disconnected viscera and a foreign body in my body, I would feel miserable too.

In addition, Pesed may have been using linen wrappings (perhaps 200 layers) and a burial mask to conceal her true age. She was originally admitted to the hospital as a teenager. However, a preliminary analysis of the medical tests seems to indicate that she may be 50 or older. Shame on her for lying!

Updated reports on Pesed’s condition will be issued as more information becomes available.

Pesed Report I

August 17, 2001

After a week's sojourn at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg the mummy reported feeling in ill health. On August 16, 2001 she was transported to the Harrisburg Hospital for a partial medical work-up. In the presence of about forty people (media and interested parties from both Whitaker and the Hospital) she was x-rayed and a cat-scan was completed. The preliminary diagnosis was rigor mortis and homesickness. It is unknown whether the homesickness was for the sands of Egypt or the sights and sounds of Westminster College. She is now resting comfortably at her Whitaker Center sanctuary. As with many dignitaries, her condition was reported on the front page of The Harrisburg Patriot. Reports on her activities will be issued periodically.

by Sam Farmerie, Westminster College Curator of Cultural Artifacts (724) 946-7053 (02/12/03)