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Old 17 February 2010, 11:53 AM
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Default More evidence than is in the newspaper article

Originally Posted by snopes View Post
A Worcester librarian and researcher believes she has found definitive proof that an urban legend that American paper manufacturers once made paper from the linen wrappings of Egyptian mummies is indeed true.
As the authot of the book in question, if you want the whole stoty, you need to read the boook. It's a very long chapter, and includes information about the use of mummies as fuel, mummies as medicine, mummies as fertilizer and mummies as paint, as well as mummy wrappings for paper.

Yes, the evidence is circumstantial--newspaper articles, broadsides, scientific articles, government documents, personal reminiscences--sources accepted by most historical researchers as being valid. But there's a lot of it and I have recorded all that I can find. It goes far beyond the broadside which was the "smoking gun"--an item which actually states it was made from mummy wrappings. There were numerous references to Egyptian rags before this, but it was the first to be so explicit about the source of the rags. The denigration of newspapers and periodicals as sources of information by claiming they made up everything is to discount one of the most valuable sources of contemporary information available to researchers. I'm not talking about one article, I am talking about several thousand articles. As my grandfather used to say "sometimes the circumstantial evidence is quite strong, like when you find a trout in your milk can."

There had been a chronic shortage of rags beginning before the Revolution and this only got worse as the century grew older. A chemist, Isaiah Deck, proposed in the 1840's that the vast amount of linen found in the pit tombs could be converted into paper. This included both human and animal mummies. Written reminiscences of paper makers in Westbrook and Gardiner Maine and in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, detail the mummy wrapper industry in Alexandria in which they were engaged to obtain rags for their mills.

There are as yet no scientific tests which can corroborate the evidence. DNA research requires a pure sample and there's no such thing--mixtures of rags, additions of coatings, even the water used to wash the rags would contaminate any DNA evidences. Carbon 14 dating also requires a pure sample, plus the source of the sample must be destroyed in order to test it.
The wrappings came from both animals and humans, and the bodies were ground up for fertilizer and mostly sent to England.

The Islamic culture had no sentimentality towards mummies--they were infidels and if something could be made from them then so much the better.

As I said, there's a lot more to this than one broadside, and I really can't fit the entire chapter in the space allotted here.
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