Mummy returning home


Written by Liz Shepard,

For five years the mummified remains of a child have been sitting in a long cardboard box inside the Port Huron Police Department's property room.

Police Lt. Duane Loxton said every time he'd see the box with warnings of its fragility scrawled across the top he'd see a small coffin.

So he decided to find the child a final resting place.

The mummified skeleton was carefully packaged Wednesday afternoon and shipped to the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine where it will be returned to the Burns Collection.

"I'm glad to have the little fella back home," said Ronn Wade, director of the Anatomical Services Division at the university.

The collection of anatomical specimens from Scottish anatomist Allen Burns dates to the early 19th century. The collection was moved from Scotland to the United States in 1820 when one of Burns' students bought the collection and got a job in Maryland.

Many specimens from the collection have disappeared.

The child's remains were found in Port Huron in 2006 after someone told police it was listed for sale on eBay.

Wade said by looking at the mummy he could tell it was part of the Burns Collection, but added it was confirmed by chemical testing of the tissue. He said the chemical makeup was the same as other remains in the collection, showing the same method in preserving the bodies.

Wade said he appreciated the police department's care and sensitivity.

"My point was nobody really owns bodies," he said. "The collection we have from my point of view is under my care and custody. ... This is the remains of a human child -- it shouldn't have been bought or sold, it's not property per se"

Wade said specimens in the collection are significant historically as they show the beginning stages of Western medicine.

"It was a different time then, medicine was just coming about," he said, adding the bodies were used to teach anatomy.

While he had to wait five years to get the body back, Wade said the child's final resting place is appropriate.

"He'll be back with family," he said.

Original article here

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