10 Temmuz 2018 Salı
TNT Ancient History Archives: Mummies of Istanbul
türkçe links to original Turkish article
(Hürriyet Newspaper, 7 July 2018)
The Capt. Hook of Princesses
In Turkish culture the body of the dead was toured around among
relatives for 40 days, until burial. In particular, this practice was
widespread among the Scythians, who mummified the body to allay
the smell over those 40 days. Today's custom of reading 'mevlit'
40 days after one's death come from this tradition.
After the Turks adopted Islam they did not abandon mummification
and it continued during Selçuk and 'Beylik' (principalities) times.
It is thought that in Ottoman times when a sultan died in battle,
his body was mummified to be brought back to the throne, although
some researchers characterize this as embalming. When a body is
embalmed the internal organs are removed and various spices and
aromas are introduced to the body to maintain its integrity.
The Crocodile and the Princess
There are 6 mummies in the Archeology Museum in Istanbul and 1
in Topkapı Palace. The most interesting one is that of a head of a
crocodile and the head of a princess, which was brought to Istanbul
from Egypt during the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz. According to
legend, during the times of the Pharoahs, the child princess was
eaten by a crocodile in the Nile river and only her head was saved.
With the belief that the princess would live again, her head was
mummified in the tail of the crocodile. The mummy was given
the name 'Arap' and moved from the Yıldız Palace to Topkapı
during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II, where it remained in
a depot until Tahsin Öz, a former museum director, found it and
added it to the Topkapı Museum inventory.
Historian İbrahim Hakkı Konyalı explained in the -1950s that
"One of the old palace officials, Hacı Süleyman, told the story
that this Arap nearly brought down the palace. Everyone was
scared of it and they would make vows and light candles at its
head, saying that the mummy rose up at night and roamed the
palace. One of the famous sweet-makers, Emin Usta, was deathly
afraid of Arap. One day he made some wonderful sweets for the
Sultan. I wanted some but he wouldn't give me any. So I said
to myself 'I'll show you!' At night I went to the onion depot,
opened the coffin and took the mummy's head out. Then I went
to the sweets kitchen and put the mummy's head on top of the
piles of sugar, while I toppled all the pots and pans with a great
clatter. The noise reverberated through the palace and I snuck
off to my residence and stretched out in my bed."
"Our writer at the side of the Arap mummy that would roil
the Topkapı Palace from time to time."
"Shortly thereafter, 400-500 people in the palace were screaming
at me 'Arap is destroying the palace! Do something!' In response,
I said 'give me the sweets I want and I'll take care of it.' I was
promised the sweets so I went to the sweets kitchen and said to
Arap 'what business do you have here?!', slapping the dry face
of the mummy a couple of times. I then picked up the head and
returned it to its rightful place. All the sweets in the palace were
sent to my residence, where we ate all the sweets we wanted for
Six Other Mummies
There are 6 mummies in the Istanbul Archeology Museum, 3 of
which are on display: the mummy of Sidon King Tabnit, a cat
mummy in the Ancient Eastern Treasures section, and another
mummy in a wooden sarcophagus. Mummies in the depot include
a child mummy from the Middle Ages.
Museum Director Rahmi Asal explained that "as with the Egyptian
mummies, the brain was extracted with a hook through the nose
and the internal organs were removed via a cut on the right side.
Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen cloth, whereas this
child was mummified in its clothes. We know this from the
stitches in the clothes. We don't know where it came from but
we assume it is from Byzantine times, although it also resembles
mummies from the 'Beylik' (principalities) time. In any case,
Egyptian mummies' eyes were removed and replaced with glass
objects. The eyes of this child are still there."
Reincarnated as Bart Simpson.
Just in time for the World Cup final...