Hidden for decades in Kansas City, a CT Scan reveals clues into Basket Mummies' past

The mummies are on display at Union Station

Dan Weinbaum
November 09, 2017 - 5:18 pm

Kansas City, MO - Two basket mummies, first brought to Kansas City in the early 1920's, and kept in storage since the 1960's, are now on display at Union Station's Mummies of the World exhibit.

Thanks to a CT Scan at St. Luke's Hospital, experts are learning more about who they were.

"We knew very little about them, the curators didn't know if they were male or female or their history," said Dr. Randall Thompson, a cardiologist in the St. Luke's Health System.

The CT Scan revealed both a man and a woman. "They were probably in their early 20's when they died, based on growth plates," said Thompson.

Thompson coordinated a team of mummy experts from around the globe to study the basket mummies, and oversaw the CT Scan that allowed them to peer inside the mummies encasements. These mummies draw their name from being tightly bound in rope forming a basket.

The mummies are from South America, near Lake Titicaca, high in the Andes Mountains. This pair are around 600 years old. "The people who had mummified their ancestors would bring the mummy out periodically perhaps, and talk with them," said Thompson. "It was almost a form of ancestor worship."

Most of these type of mummies have been lost to time, as conquering Spaniards saw the practice as idolatry, and destroyed many of them.

"These mummies are very interesting, they're a cultural treasure for us, they're not very common," said Thompson.


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