New Orleans prides herself as being one of the most haunted cities in the United States. The city embraces her paranormal side. I’ve been visiting NOLA since I was a little girl. On every trip, I learned something new. And this year’s trip was no different. There’s so many places and stories. I’ve compiled some of the most interesting and look forward to sharing them with you! In the meantime, I leave you with 3 teasers: trunk, voodoo, and axman. Hint: Some of the storylines in American Horror Stories “Coven” were spot on.
During the 16th century, a new, transparent paint pigment hit the market. Called Mummy Brown (Caput Mortuum or Egyptian Brown), the pigment quickly became a favorite amongst artists who used it for shadows and flesh tones. The source of the paint wasn’t a real concern. See, the pigment was made from ground up Egyptian mummies—human and feline. If unavailable, corpses of slaves and criminals were ground up.
Roberson & Co. of London made the pigment and sold it in tubes. White pitch and myrrh were combined with the ground up Egyptian mummies. Since the mummies were embalmed, they also contained trace elements of ammonia and fat. Scholars state that the color fell between burnt umber and raw umber on the color scale. Over time, however, the paint cracked and faded. Further, the ammonia and fat affected other pigments. This was a restoration nightmare. You know, in addition to the obvious.
The 19th century Pre Raphaelite artists favored it. Some who were to have purchased a tube included Sir William Beechly, Edward Burne-Jones, and Eugene Delacroix. Once word of the ingredients surfaced some artists discarded. Famed author and nephew of Burne-Jones, Rudyard Kipling retold the story of when Burnes-Jones found out about the ingredients. He supposedly ceremoniously buried his tube in his garden.
It is difficult to assess whether any of them actually used the paint. Experts believe Mummy Brown was used in L’Interieur d’une Cuisine, (Interior of a Kitchen, 1815) by Martin Drolling. Researchers speculate that Delacroix used Mummy Brown in La Liberté quidant le people (Liberty Leading the People, 1830) and Salone de la Paix at the Hotel de Ville (1854). As for Burne-Jones, researchers believe Temperantia (1872) and The Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon (1881-1898) were painted with Mummy Brown.
Production ceased in the 1920-1930s with the last tubes selling in 1964. By that time, Roberson’s stated that interest in using the pigment had wain so much that one mummy could supply 20 years’ worth of tubes. The Egyptian mummy supply had dried up, as well.
There are better substitutes to Mummy Brown. For instance, Daniel Smith sells Bauxite Mummy.
If you’re interested in other historical paint colors and their origins, check out this amazing blog: http://www.veritablehokum.com/comic/mummy-brown-and-other-historical-colors/.
Tulane University hosted 3 Super Bowl games: IV in 1970, VI in 1972, and IX in 1975. The crowds of 80,000+ people never knew that underneath the bleachers tucked in a storage room were two Egyptian mummies. Theirs was a lurid story.
George Robbins Gliddon (1809-1857) was the former US vice consul in Egypt. He fashioned himself an Egyptologist and assembled the “Gliddon’s Transparent Panorama of the Nile” exhibit that traveled the United States in the mid-1800s. The panorama was a beautifully illustrated painting that measured 900 feet long and 9 feet high. Gliddon was a master salesman and signed up subscribers who funded his traveling show. These subscribers attended mummy unwrapping parties, where Gliddon unwrapped a mummy and displayed any funerary items contained within the coffins.
While in Boston, Gliddon, who prided himself on his ability to translate hieroglyphics, misidentified one of the mummies. He claimed that the mummy contained in the case was a female of noble lineage. He claimed she was a high priestess or of that level. Unfortunately, upon the reveal, the mummy was most certainly a male. His erect penis had been carefully wrapped. Gliddon talked himself out of this uncomfortable situation and planned his exit from the field. He shortened his traveling itinerary, making New Orleans his final stop.
Gliddon arrived in March of 1852. He opened his show at Tulane University. He unwrapped the second mummy, that of a female, at what is now Gallier Hall. When the show closed, Gliddon donated the mummies to Tulane. He attempted to sell the vast panorama, even suggesting it be divided into 50-foot sections; however, it probably didn’t sell. There aren’t any records as to its fate. Thanks to Tulane’s football stadium’s demolition, we now know what happened to the two mummies.
Tulane’s former stadium was a popular venue. The Third Tulane Stadium, as it was known, was built in 1926 with a capacity of 35,000. Four expansions followed with capacity reaching 80,985 in 1955. On July 17, 1976, ZZ Top performed to a raucous audience which led to the university banning all concerts inside the stadium. (The ban remains in effect) The stadium became known as the Sugar Bowl, based on its form as resembling a sugar bowl lid, and the Queen of Southern Stadiums. Professional and college football teams played there up until 1979.
Sections of the stadium were declared unsafe, and demolition commenced on November 18, 1979. Demolition finished in June of 1980. It was during the early stages of demolition that the mummies were discovered ensconced in glass cases sitting above their coffins.
The mummies were displayed initially in a museum at the university’s medical school. Next stop was the museum of natural history in Gibson Hall. That museum closed in 1955, and the mummies were placed into storage, underneath the stadium. Somehow, they ended up at a Charity Hospital museum and then to a physician’s home. (Not sure I would take them home) They were then placed back in storage until their discovery. They were kept in the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library basement until 1979, when they relocated to their final resting place: Dinwiddie Hall in the Department of Anthropology.
University professors, along with graduate students, have learned a lot about the mummies. The male’s case had his name inscribed. It is often written as Djed-Thoth-iu-ef-ankh or “Thoth says that he will live.” He was a priest and “overseer of artisans” at the Temple of Amun in Thebes. He suffered from dental decay and spinal issues. He was around 50 when he died and was embalmed.
Initially, Gibbons, among others, believed that the female was Djed-Mut-iu-es-ankh; however, her skull is housed at Penn Museum at the University of Pennsylvania. At some unknown time, this 13.5-15.5-year-old female was placed inside the other’s case. Even though she is better preserved, little is known about her.
More has been discovered about George Gliddon. Some Edgar Allan Poe scholars have theorized that Gliddon was the inspiration for Doctor Ponnonner in Poe’s satirical short story “Some Words with a Mummy,” first published in April 1945. The main character procured a mummy and plans to unwrap it at his home in front a of few friends in the name of “scientific discovery.” The inept doctor instead revives the mummy they christen Allamistakeo. The story centers around Egyptian mummy mania that captured the imaginations of people in Europe and the United States.
Tragedy did not escape Gliddon in real life. He abandoned his research in Egyptology and shifted, instead, to proving polygenism, the belief that each race came from a distinct, individual source. (It is racist conjecture and shunned by science and scientific communities) Gliddon was in Panama in 1857 where he contracted Yellow Fever. He died before reaching the age of 50.
Ultimately, the Tulane mummies are more interesting. While visiting the university, I will attempt to visit them. I’ll post images if I am successful.
The 2018 story of the year: Chile’s Mummy Mystery. Read my blog at: http://www.hauntjaunts.net/story-of-2018-chiles-mummy-mystery/.
Paranormal News for the Week of March 27, 2018
ParaNews: Raising the Dead and Paychecks
- The 6-inch skeleton discovered in Northern Chile positively identified as not being an alien. The mummified remains appeared to be disproportionate and fodder for many rumors since being found in a Chilean ghost town. “Ata” was aptly named for the Atacama Desert near the deserted town. Researchers were finally able to test Ata’s DNA. The findings revealed that she was genetically deformed. Scientists have not precisely dated the girl; however, they estimate she lived after 1500. She is privately owned. The findings are published in peer-reviewed journal Genome Research. Read the abstract here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/29567674/
- Decomposing body of a sea creature is not the corpse of the mythical Georgia river monster “Alty.” Jeff Warren was boating with his son along the Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge when he spotted a disfigured, dead animal. He took pictures and video, headed inland, and passed along his tale. Locals were eager to claim “Alty” has been found, but not so fast. Area experts theorized the animal was a frilled shark, an elusive shark that has a long body. Read the blog here: https://thehauntedlibrarian.com/2018/03/23/sorry-its-not-alty-or-nessie-or-any-other-mythical-creature/
- Season 3 of Stranger Things begins production next month (April) with a very happy cast. All of the cast members secured huge pay raises. Adult actors Winona Ryder (“Joyce”) and David Harbour (“Hopper”) will earn between $300,000-350,000 per episode while at least two of the boys, Finn Wolfhard (“Mike”) and Gaten Matarazzo (“Dustin”) will earn upwards of $250,000 per episode. Caleb McLaughlin (“Lucas”) and Noah Schnapp (“Will”) will earn over $150,000, while Natalia Dyer (“Nancy”), Charlie Heaton (“Jonathan”), and Joe Kerry (“Steve”) will take home $150,000 per episode. The only unknown is Millie Bobby Brown. News media reports that she negotiated separately from the teenagers and will earn between $250,000-350,000 per episode. Considering the kids earned $30,000 per episode for the first two seasons, they have proven their worth on and off the set.
Note: Still waiting for the official Season 3 poster for Stranger Things.