Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Several years ago, I was consulted by the National Geographic Channel's The Mummy Road Show for an episode called "Unwanted Mummy." It was about Hazel Farris (d. 1906), whose preserved body I had seen in Tennessee during my research for Modern Mummies. Having "met" her in person (she is the mummy in my profile picture), it was awfully difficult to watch her body - which had been intact for nearly a century - carved up when the episode aired in 2002. She had been in the custodianship of Luther Brooks, but when he died his family allowed the autopsy and had her placed in above-ground crypt.
Another episode "One Tough Cowboy" focused on a famous mummy who has remained above-ground: Sylvester (pictured), whom I have seen at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle. According to the story, Sylvester's naturally dehydrated body had been found in the Arizona desert in 1895, but medical imaging arranged by the researchers on "The Mummy Road Show" discredited that theory. A CT-scan in 2001 at the University of Washington Medical Center showed Sylvester's body to be perfectly intact, with organs that had retained their shape and arteries that showed evidence of embalming. In 2005, a CT-scan and an MRI at Inland Pacific Imaging in Seattle revealed even more detail, astounding the technicians, including a bullet fragment beneath his collarbone and a completely intact tongue. The researchers are convinced that Sylvester's preservation was achieved with an arsenic-based embalming fluid. "We've looked at probably 1,000 mummies," said Jerry Conlogue, "and he's absolutely the best preserved of any mummy we've ever examined." I'm pleased to report that you may conduct your own visual examination of Sylvester - he is still a Seattle resident.

1 comment:

  1. Here is my Story---I met Sylvester for the first time in Idaho in the late 50's, in a "western museum"--you know--Rattlesnakes Alive! and all that. I met him again, to my astonishment, in a store very much like Seattle's "Ye Ol' Curiosity Shoppe"...but it was in Boston, near Fanuell Hall in the late 60's. I was really surprised at meeting him again in the late 80's, at Pier 54's Ye Ol' Curiosity Shoppe in Seattle!! (although glad to see he'd settled down and gotten married!) Yes, same name, same story, same cloth, same bullet hole. Either he's been passed around a bunch, or he has a few brothers! I'd love for someone to clear up THIS mystery about Sylvester the Mummy!


You may add your comments here.