2012年6月12日 星期二

Historical Inaccuracies of the 1999 Movie The Mummy

Hollywood had always taken the liberty and poetic license with historical events and figures to produce movies.  The Mummy franchise (1999 - 2008) had been one of the worst offenders.  While keeping in mind the movie is a fantasy/adventure film, the misrepresentation of Egyptian culture in the films remain palpable.  Yet, for fans who still loved the movies (including me), I have sought to write a guide that describes the inaccuracies in the order they appear in the films so one can refer to the list at anytime while they watch the film.

1) The Sphinx: the Sphinx was shown in The Mummy to be nearing completion during the reign of Seti I.
A. The latest possible late the Sphinx could have been completed was in the 4th dynasty by Khufu and geology tests shows that it is more likely that it was built even before this time.
B. The Sphinx was built in Giza, not Thebes as shown in the movie.

2) The Pyramids: In the beginning of the movie, the narrator states that the setting of the movie as Thebes with the Giza pyramids providing the backdrop.  
A. the distance between Thebes and Giza pyramids is about 500 kilometers (around 300 miles).  It would be IMPOSSIBLE for the pyramids to dominate the landscape as it does in the movie.  
B. the three Giza Pyramids (Pyramid of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure respectively) were built in the 4th dynasty in the Old Kingdom of Egypt.  Even the most conservative estimates place their time of construction at no later than 2470 BCE, over one thousand one hundred years before Seti I's reign in the 19th dynasty of the New Kingdom.  Hence, the pyramid's limestone casing stones should have long disappeared and therefore, NOT white and shiny as seen in the movie.
C. pyramids were used as tombs and would not have been within the "city of the living" as stated in the movie.

3) Seti I's Appearance: Seti I was depicted with facial hair and wearing a golden Hedjet crown.  
A. in ancient Egypt, facial hair is believed to be unclean and was wore only by the poor and lower-classes.  Instead, fake beards were wore by the pharaohs.  
B. The crown of dynastic Egypt, Pschent, was a combination of the Hedjet of Upper Egypt (white) and Deshret of Lower Egypt (red).  The Hedjet by itself was never worn by its own since the reunification of Upper and Lower Egypt that led to the establishment of dynastic Egypt.
Seti I in The Mummy with the golden crown and facial hair - Source: The Mummy
A Drawing showing the crowns of Egypt - Source: Michigan State University 

4) The Love Triangle: Ankhesenamun (spelt Anuk-su-namun in 1999 film) was described as the mistress of Seti I (1294 - 1279 BC) and the lover of Imhotep in the film.  In reality, she was not either.  
A. Seti I's wife Queen Tuya, mother of Ramses the Great, was the only recorded female companion of Seti I.  
B. Ankhesenamun preceded  was the wife of Tutankhamun is estimated to have before 1320 BC and therefore would not have met Seti I, let alone marry him.    
C. Imhotep was the architect behind the Djoser pyramid and died before even before the construction of the Giza Pyramids and therefore, has NO interaction with either Seti I or Ankhesenamun.

Ankhesenamun as seen in The Mummy - Source: The Mummy

Queen Tuya's stature - Source: St. Louis University




Ankhesenamun (right) depicted in King Tut's tomb - Source: Spiritweb




















































Stature of Imhotep - Source: The Art Institute of Chicago Museum
















5) Queen's Appearance: There has never been any recorded evidence of the usage of body paint as a means of ensuing the fidelity of the pharaoh's wife as seen on Ankhesenamun.  Furthermore, the clothing of ancient Egypt tends to more modest.

6) The Non-Existent City of the Dead: Hamunaptra is not an Egyptian city, but instead, Indian.  

7) The Additional Jar: There were five canopic jars in the movie; in reality, only four were used representing the four sons of Horus.    They should be jackal-headed, baboon-headed, human-headed and falcon-respectively.  There are no lion-headed canopic jars in Egypt.  
Egyptian canopic jars - Source: Southern Methodist University

The five canopic jars of The Mummy - Source: The Mummy

















7) The Book of the Dead: In the movie, the book of the dead was depicted as a black book with covers and pages as would be seen in a modern book and has the spells to revive a deceased soul.
A. books of ancient Egypt were scrolls of parchment, not a book in a sense that we recognize today.
B. the book of the dead was not for reviving deceased people but instead provides spells for souls to use in the afterlife.

The Book of the Dead as seen in The Mummy - Source: The Mummy
Weighing of the heart by Anubis, detail from the Book of the Dead of Ani. Egypt, c. 1275 BC
Scene from Book of the Dead of the 19th Dynasty- Source: British Musuem 
Scene from the Book of the Dead of Hunefer. Egypt, c. 1280 BC
Scene from Book of the Dead of the 19th Dynasty- Source: British Musuem

8) Mummified Alive:  In the movie, Imhotep and his priests were mummified alive by priests wearing Anubis heads.  
A. mummification was a privilege designed to grant immortality as the soul can survive as long as the body remains intact.
B. the typical embalming process of a mummy involves first removing the liver, lungs, stomach and intestines and placing in the FOUR canopic jars.  The brain is then broken apart and removed through the nose using a long hook.  The body would then be covered and stuffed with natron (a naturally occuring form of salt) for 40 days.  Afterwards, the embalmers would dry off the body, stuff the torso full of dry material and cover it in oils.  Sometimes, they would replace the organs and bury the jars separately while in others, they would leave the organs within the jars.  Now tell me, can someone be mummified alive?
C. only the lead priest in the mummification process would wear the head of Anubis so there should only be one Anubis head at a time. 

9) Hom Dai: In The Mummy, Imhotep was supposedly given the worst punishment possible, Hom Dai, which consist of wrapping Imhotep in linen before filling his sarcophagus with scarab bettles.  Yet, there has been no record of any similar punishments ever being practiced on anyone.  Instead, being buried alive (minus the scarab beetles) or impaled on sticks or decapitation would be a much more likely punishment for an assassin who murdered the king.  Moreover, the scarabs featured in the movie (and those in ancient Egypt) are dung beetles, not carnivores.  


10) The Anubis Stature: In the scene depicting the passage of time after Imhotep was buried as well as the scene prior to the appearance of Seti I, the head of Anubis' stature was tilted downwards.  Traditionally, all statures of Egyptian deity is portrayed with the head facing forward.


11) Rick O'Donnel's Battle: in The Mummy, O'Connell was portrayed fighting a battle against Arab cavalry in what was Hamunaptra.
A. As aforementioned, there is no Hamunaptra
B. There were no wars/ rebellions/ armed conflicts of any sort in Egypt during the inter-war era.  



12) Wealthiest Pharaoh: Evie claimed to Jonathan that it is believed that Seti I was the wealthiest pharaoh of all.  
A. There is no evidence that Seti I was wealthier than other great imperial pharaohs of the New Kingdom such as his son Ramses the Great or 18th dynasty conquerors like Thutmose I or great builders like Amenhotep III.  
B. The weathiest pharaoh was like to be Alexander the Great who was anointed as pharaoh in 332 BC in Memphis.  


13) Book of the Living: As the adventurers were sailing towards Hamunaptra, Evie and O'Connell had a conversation delineating the Book of Amun-Ra, also called the Book of the Living, made of gold.  The book supposedly contains spells from the Old Kingdom.
A. There is no book of the living in Egyptian history.
B. Egyptologist had never find a book made of gold in Egypt.
C. The book of Amun-Ra had never existed in Egyptian history.
D. The combination of Amun and Ra to form Amun-Ra occurred in the New Kingdom which began around a thousand years after the conclusion of the Old Kingdom.  This is because of because the first pharaohs of the New Kingdom (18th dynasty) were from Thebes where Amun served as the principal local deity.  The worship of Ra as a major deity did not occur until the 5th Dynasty and by then, the high point of the Old Kingdom (4th dynasty) had passed.  


14) The Eastern City of the Dead: The film depicts the rising sun behind the city of Hamunaptra revealing its location and therefore implies that Hamunaptra is on the eastern side of the Nile.  However, in ancient Egypt, the west and its unforgiving desert were believed to the location of the afterlife.  Hence, if there was a city of the dead, it would be on the Nile's west, not east. 


15) And then There was Light: After saying this, Evie turns the mirror to catch the sunlight and thereby illuminating the entire room in the movie.  Yet, there was no glass in ancient Egypt and their mirrors were made of bronze.  Bronze mirrors cannot reflect light to the same degree as glass mirrors; hence, after a few reflections, the light would not be strong enough to light up the entire room.


16) Heartless and Brainless: As Evie delineated the mummification process to O'Connell, she claims that the heart would be removed from the body while the brain was taken out by a red-hot poker.  
A. In actuality, the heart is believed by Ancient Egyptians to be the soul of the deceased and always left within the body.  The heart is integral in afterlife as Anubis must weigh the heart against a feather.  If the heart weighs the same as the feather, the individual can past into the afterlife; if the heart weighs more, it would be devoured by Ammit, a beast that is the combination of a crocodile, lion, leopard and hippopotamus.
B. Brains are undoubtedly removed but not with a red-hot poker but instead with a long hook.
The heart being weighned by Anubis - Source: British Museum


17) Locked Sarcophagus: The sarcophagus of Imhotep was locked and needed to be opened by a key.  However, Egypt sarcophagus were never locked. 


18) The Ten Plagues of Egypt: Evie stated that the if the victim of Hom Dai arises, he would bring with him the ten plagues of Egypt.  In addition, the first plague was shown to be the swarms of locusts in The Mummy.  The second plague was depicted to be blood while the third was hail.
A. As everyone knows, the ten plagues of Egypt originates with with the Hebrew Bible and was never mentioned as such by the Egyptians themselves.  
B. The first plague of Egypt was not the plague locusts (the 8th plague according to Exodus); the first plague should have been the plague of blood.  The third plague should have been lice/ gnats instead of hail.


19) Ailurophobia: In The Mummy, Imhotep feared cats above all else and would flee in the presence of one because they were the guardians of the underworld.  
A. In Egyptian religion, cats were highly revered as a symbol of protection, fertility and motherhood; they are also believed to be the representation of goddess Bast and are worshiped in her cults.  Yet, they are not the guardians of the dead although one can argue that their abilities as protectors may also have scared Imhotep in the film.
B. The actual guardian of the underworld and the dead in Egyptian religion should have been Anubis.  Hence, the creature that Imhotep should have feared in the films would be the jackal.


Stature of Bast - Source: British Musuem


Anubis at the mummification of the dead copyright Andre
Anubis presiding over mummification - source: ancientegyptonline
20)  The Ten Plagues of Egypt (2): The fourth plague in the film was a solar eclipse (darkness. with the fifth being the plague of flies.  In Exodus, the plague of flies was the 4th plague while the plague of darkness was the 9th plague.  

21) Ankhesenamun's Mummy: In the film, Ankhesenamun was well preserved because she had been mummified.  However, in Egyptian culture, crimes against the pharaoh were the most harshly punished of all.  Mummification in ancient Egypt was a means of granting immortality and therefore, Ankhesenamun having committed regicide would not have been mummified.

Here we go, this should be all the historical inaccuracies within The Mummy.  If I missed anything, I would love to know about it.  Time to begin watching toe The Mummy 2 XD 






















2 則留言:

  1. Love your site for all its interesting content, which I just happened upon while researching cities of ancient Egypt. I also loved The Mummy series, even with all its historical inaccuracies, which fortunately didn't ruin the films for me, but truly added more depth to the movie's story line, purely for the sake of entertainment.

    回覆刪除