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Poster Above - Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe - by Madame Talbot's Victorian Lowbrow


"Sylvester" the Desert Mummy


About 1895, two wandering cowboys riding through the Gila Bend Desert of Central Arizona came upon the nude body of a man half-buried in the treacherous shifting sands.  The body was exhumed and carried to a near-by town for possible identification.  It has since remained unidentified.


The body is a man about 45 years of age, 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs at present 137 pounds.  He weighed about 225 pound originally.  Death came through a gunshot wound in the stomach and accompany stains are plainly visible to this day.  Scientists have said that this is a perfect example of natural dehydration, claiming that the action of the hot sands and possible chemicals contained therein together with the dry air, produced this condition within 24 hours after death.  This prevented any form of decomposition.


Hair, mustache, eye-lashes, teeth, and nails--in fact every detail of the entire body is perfect.  "Sylvester" may be seen at the World Famous Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, Colman Ferry Dock, Seattle Washington, U.S.A.


This article below appeared in the Seattle Times 2001


"It's incredible," opined one professor, looking at Sylvester yesterday.


Then again, Seattleites have always known that Sylvester, aka Sylvester the Mummy, who's stood at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop for almost 50 years, was a man who defied time.


And tests conducted yesterday at the University of Washington Medical Center proved it.


Sylvester, along with his Curiosity Shop companion mummy, Sylvia, were taken by ambulance to the hospital for a CT scan as part of an upcoming television documentary series about mummies.


Titled "The Mummy Road Show," the 13-part series follows Gerald Conlogue and Ronald Beckett, two professors from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., around the world as they examine mummies.


Producers of the show happened upon Sylvester and Sylvia when they saw Ye Olde Curiosity Shop's Web site. They get to CT scan the mummies thanks to the UW Medical Center's donation of the facility, instruments and time.


"Anything to advance medical science," said Dr. Udo Schmiedl, professor of radiology and director of imaging services at UW Medical Center. The hospital last year performed a CT scan of Nellie, the Burke Museum's 2,300-year-old Egyptian mummy.


Yesterday, doctors, producers and technicians crowded around as first Sylvester then Sylvia went through the CT machine.


"His brain is so very pretty," said Conlogue, assistant professor and director of the diagnostic imaging program and co-director of the bioanthropology research institute at Quinnipiac. "It's a normal brain. It's just smaller."


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All of Sylvester's organs seemed shrunken but perfectly proportional.


"This is the best-preserved old mummy I've seen," Conlogue said.


He theorized that Sylvester's body had probably been coated with something that preserved his organs, contradicting the current theory that natural dehydration in the desert may have prevented his decomposition. (As the story goes, Sylvester was found half-buried in the sands of the Gila Bend Desert of central Arizona in 1895 by two wandering cowboys. He came to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in 1955.)


The CT scan yesterday also revealed the bullet that may have killed Sylvester. It entered his lower left abdomen and a fragment was found by the collarbone. In addition, there were metal fragments -- probably from bullets or shrapnel -- in his face, the result of an incident that may have occurred years before his death.


Sylvester also seemed to have severe bunions and extremely high arches, said Dr. Sue Romanick, a Bellevue rheumatologist in private practice, who watched yesterday out of curiosity.


Sylvia, in contrast, was desiccated, with most of her organs collapsed and liquefied, like most mummies that Conlogue and Bequeath have examined. Sylvia dates to the early 19th century.


The series featuring Sylvester and Sylvia, produced by Larry Angel of New York-based Angel Brothers Media, will air in the fall on National Geographic cable.


Next week Conlogue, Bequeath and crew are off to West Virginia, where they'll study the work of a mad scientist who embalmed patients from a mental institution.


Said Angel: "We're following two guys with a sense of humor, who respect their mummies and have a good time.


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