STORY WRITTEN BY VINCE CAREY
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PHILADELPHIA >> Mimi Leveque has been traveling with “Annie” for the past five years.
They’ve been everywhere from Washington D.C. to California. They’ve seen Texas and Montana.
In all that time, Leveque has gotten close to “Annie.”
“She’s my girl,” said Leveque, the conservator at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. “Absolutely. I mean, I really feel strongly about her.”
The conversation, though, might be a little one-sided. See, “Annie” died about 2,400 years ago after drowning in the Nile River.
“Annie” is a mummy who was excavated from an Egyptian cemetery in 1903.
“That was the time when the Egyptian government was selling mummies to tourists in order to fund their excavations,,” Leveque said. “That’s where Mark Twain came up with the line, ‘You’re nobody if you don’t come back with a crocodile under one arm and a mummy under the other.’”
“Annie,” so named by researchers because she was an anonymous 16-18-year old girl, is part of the Franklin Institute’s newest exhibit, “Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science.”
The mummy “Annie” is on loan from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.
“Our visitors have always been fascinated by the mysteries of Egypt and its archaeological finds,” said Larry Dubinski, the President and CEO of the Franklin Institute. “They continue to captivate us even to today. So much of what is revealed by science and scientific methods happens behind closed doors through the work of skilled scientists.”
The exhibit aims to bring some of that science out in the open.
“Lost Egypt” is separated into four different parts.
Upon entering, visitors are welcomed by a camel and encouraged to climb on its back for photos. A video game (to keep all ages interested) is nearby, which challenges the user to back the right equipment and supplies for an excavation.
“This 6,000-square foot immersive exhibit, which includes 17 interactives, seven video stations, 67 authentic Egyptian artifacts and eight large photo environments, will reveal how archeological scientists use modern technology to uncover and understand the ancient civilization of Egypt,” Dubinski said.
At the field site part of the exhibit, visitors can build a pyramid with wooden blocks. They also find out how the sites are found using high and low-tech devices.
If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to move the huge blocks used for building pyramids, there’s a chance to pull one along the floor. Later, it’s time to reconstruct a couple of artifacts in a puzzle-like atmosphere.
The exhibit moves on to an area dedicated to ancient Egyptian culture.
This is where you get to meet “Annie.”
“I feel so sorry about her story, but this has given her an eternity,” Leveque said. “She’s seen more of the United States than most people who have lived here.”
According to what has been learned through the years, “Annie” was a typical Egyptian girl of the time until something happened and she fell into the Nile River.
Using CT scans and some historical records, researchers have been able to reconstruct what she looked like at the time.
While, “Annie” is not wrapped like the famous King Tut, there was care taken.
She is wearing sandals and wrapped in a red shroud, which was usually reserved for priests, so she must have been special in some way.
While her hands are cupped over her pelvis, the embalmers used extra bandages and added resin in an attempt to “heal” here in the afterlife.
Under the wrappings, “Annie” is missing a knee cap. According to research, it means there might have been some decay in her body before wrapping, which is quite unusual.
“Think about how many people have come and been able to learn from her,” Leveque said. “Who would have thought an anonymous teenager would have such an afterlife. She’s in good condition. There has been no damage whatsoever. She’s under very strict climate control wherever she goes. It’s been great.”