An apothecary vessel inscribed “MUMIÆ” once contained powdered mummy.
Mumia (or mummia) was 1st prepared in the 12th c., was in common use by the 15th c., and reached great popularity by the 17th c. “Mummy is become merchandise, Mizraim cures wounds, and Pharaoh is sold for balsams,” wrote Sir Thomas Browne in 1841. Mummy powder was in such demand that the supply of ancient Egyptians slowed and contemporary corpses were substituted. Mumia was still available as recently as the early 20th c.
This curious medicine was used topically and orally to treat various ailments such as gout, bruising, migranes, epilepsy and internal bleeding.