Unwrapping History

By: Bryan Geary

For years, a mummy in the attic of Plimpton has been the subject of much interest and intrigue. At one point in the school’s history the mummy played a role in helping students learn anatomy and biology, a practice that was common around the country at the time. Now, the same mummy is at the center of a new, modern educational opportunity and no longer goes by “mummy,” but rather, “Mary,” a name affectionally chosen by students. 

“One of the really interesting parts of this experience with our mummy is looking at its humanization,” said Katherine McCandless, Tilton’s Dean of Teaching and Learning. An essential part of that experience, she continued, is in the name. “She has a name; we just don’t know what her name is.” 

Over the coming months, with help from a team of forensic anthropologists from the University of New Hampshire and a lab team from the University of Georgia, Tilton students will have the opportunity to learn more about Mary’s story; where she was from, when she was alive, and what her life may have looked like. 

“They’re going to do some sampling looking at strontium isotopes,” says McCandless. “With radioactive dating, we can get a sense of all of these elements of her story.” 

These bits of information gleaned from science will allow for additional student opportunities, like Skye Ryan’s Legacy Project about forensic artistry. “We are connected with a forensic artist who is going to do a forensic facial approximation; so recreating what Mary looked like in real life,” said McCandless.