It is no longer possible to determine how these relics came to be in the Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany collection. Did they come from the Engel Apotheke (Angel Pharmacy), the origin of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany? Did Johann Anton Merck bring them back to Darmstadt from one of his extended journeys in the 1770s? Or were they found by Willy Merck, the head of the company’s factory production, in his search for new drugs that started in 1887? That was the year in which this so-called product began to appear regularly in the company’s business records. Two years later, the first American edition of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s Index emphasized the drug’s authenticity by offering it expressly as Mummy, true Egyptian.
Embedded in the history of pharmacology
Today the use of mummy powder as a drug is part of the history of medicine. Mummies, like shrunken heads, are defined as corpses or parts of corpses and dealt with accordingly. “That was what motivated me to bring our mummy parts back to Darmstadt after sending them out to a number of exhibitions, including some in the United States,” says Bernschneider-Reif. A special climate-controlled walk-in chamber was set up for them in the corporate archive to serve as a dignified final resting place under optimal conservation conditions. Here the mummy parts are not merely exhibited but also embedded in their special place in the history of pharmacology. Above and beyond their unique fascination, they tell visitors stories about the age in which people believed in miracles, and thus make the progress of science since then even more visible.