Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egypt: Hunt For Red Mercury

In Egypt, the hunt for "red mercury" continues. Yes, this is the fabled red mercury said to be used to make nuclear bombs, but specifically the red mercury of ancient Egypt seems to have other characteristics and uses, as well.

The story about red mercury comes as background to the report that at least 17 artifacts from the Egyptian Museum of Cairo are missing following an earlier reported break-in, the country's minister of antiquities 
Zaki Hawass said Sunday, February 13, 2011. 

The missing objects include a gilded wood statue of King Tutankhamun being carried by a goddess; parts of a a gilded wood statue of Tutankhamun harpooning; a limestone statue of Akhenaten; a statue of Nefertiti making offerings; a sandstone head of an Amarna princess; a stone statuette of a scribe from Amarna; 11 wooden shabti statuettes of Yuya; and a heart scarab of Yuya.

The discovery that the ancient treasures are missing came after museum staff took an inventory, Hawass said in a statement.

The police and army plan to question people who are already in custody, Hawass said

Hawass earlier told CNN that "criminals" had broken into the museum on the night of January 28, not long after protests against President Hosni Mubarak began in Cairo and other major Egyptian cities. (Mubarak resigned on February 11, 2011.)

Hawass said January 31 the intruders had vandalized statues and display cases and stolen jewelry from the museum gift shop.

Among the 70 artifacts vandalized during anti-government protests, the most significant are a statue of King Ahkenaten wearing the blue crown and holding an offering table, King Tutankhamun’s gilded walking stick and a wooden statue of King Tut standing on the back of a panther.

The damage was caused by about six people who broke into the museum through its windowed ceiling using ropes.

“One of those people fell down on a showcase while going down using the rope. He got injured and could not escape, and was arrested inside the museum. The army also arrested about 10 more people who tried relentlessly to scale the western museum surrounding wall,” Zahi Hawass, Minister of Antiquities, said.

He added that the looters were desperately looking for a mummy in order to find “red mercury,” which it is fabled to be a magical substance used by the ancient Egyptians in mummification.

Hawass said the looters were looking for gold and what he called this fictitious substance named "red mercury" that, according to local lore, can be found in the throats of ancient mummies. Some people think it has magical powers and can be used to summon spirits.

For this reason they smashed a New Kingdom empty coffin. A number of suspects were apprehended shortly after the break-in, some of them with antiquities in their possession, Hawass said.

In June 2009, the Kuwait Times ran an article, which informed readers that the Kuwait Ministry of Interior had arrested a number of gangland hoodlums who smuggled in small pieces of red mercury stolen from ancient Egyptian mummies. These criminals were apparently intent on selling this allegedly miraculous substance to local would-be bank robbers for a KD 50,000 per portion to assist in their plots by summoning genies (jinns) - very specialist genies - apparently capable of stealing any amount of money to order from any bank without having to go through the illegal business of tying up security staff, blowing safe doors off, and being caught. Police reportedly arrested the four men — a Kuwaiti, a Syrian and two Egyptians — for attempting to sell two grams of red mercury, worth $42 million, reported the Al-Qabas DailyDuring interrogation the Syrian is said to have admitted to the charge and said the substance was stolen from an Egyptian mummy by his partner in Syria.

After the January 28, 2011 Egyptian museum break-in, the army and private citizens fanned out to protect Egypt's treasures as the unrest spread.

"The Egyptian people are absolutely wonderful," said Jan Summers Duffy, an Egyptologist at the College of Idaho and curator at the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History. She said when the break-in was announced that she believed they can be counted on to defend museums and archaeological sites. For every looter, there are a thousand Egyptians who will defend its ancient treasures, observers commented.

So, the red mercury, a substance purportedly used in the creation of nuclear bombs as well as a variety of unrelated weapons systems, and reported to keep away evil spirits and boost the sexual potency of elderly men is safely, indirectly, being guarded by the military of Egypt and its people, as of last report.

Among the objects missing are a gilded wood statue of King Tutankhamun being carried by a goddess.


Mark said...

There used to be a red-brown shade of watercolor paint made from grinding up mummy bits. It was, apparently, very popular even though it was a "fugitive" color that faded over time. Some modern pigments still play on the popularity of the paint:

A reddish brown pigment containing over 35% hematite. We prepare this family of pigments from sources in Russia. We could not find an equivalent for it in Europe or the Western Hemisphere. However, it is known among artists in Russia as "mummy," because it resembles the pigment highly prized by artists of the 18th and 19th centuries. The historical pigment, which had its source in such organic matter as bitumen and asphaltum, was a fugitive color. It got its name from grisly rumors that the pigment was made by grinding Egyptian mummies.

Bauxite Mummy

Mark said...

P.S. I didn't think of this until just now, but watercolor paint has another link to geopolitics and Middle East unrest-- The medium of watercolor paint, the binder that holds the pigment together, is "Gum Arabic." It comes from acacia trees growing in Egypt [!] and Sudan and legend has it Osama Bin Laden financed his global terror group with Gum Arabic profits. Who'd have thunk watercolor paint--the most beautiful and refined kind of painting--would have these ... earthy kind of connections?

Michael said...

"Red Matter" is the liquid doomsday substance in Star Trek 11.

FilmNoir23 said...

Very curious Loren! Interesting find...

Anonymous said...

This a question. could the real red mercury existed back in Egypt? if not how could this people think that they could find traces of it in the mummuy's

Anonymous said...

Very cute

Anonymous said...

There are other places still people not known which other mummies exist, in Somaliland (Laas-geel)..... you can see the red mercury alot.