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Mummy found in a garbage dump

The Pittsburgh Female College was located on 8th St and operated from 1854 to 1896


A rather strange discovery was made at a Pittsburgh garbage dump in the fall of 1886-- a 3,000-year-old Peruvian mummy. As they always say, one man's trash is another man's museum specimen. The following story appeared in New Castle's Daily City News on October 14, 1886.


The Corpse Found in a Garbage Dump at Allegheny City Turns Out to be a Mummy 3,000 Years Old.

Pittsburgh, Pa., Oct. 14.-- Yesterday afternoon intense excitement was caused in this city and Allegheny by the announcement that the remains of a woman in a nude condition had been found in a box at the Allegheny City garbage dump. The evening papers gave much space to the "ghastly find", alleging that marks on the box indicated its recent arrival in New York by a Pacific mail steamer, and that it had been forwarded to this city by the Adams Express Company.


In rolling over the side of the dump the box was broken and the remains rolled out into the water. The body was that of a medium sized person, and was evidently that of a woman. The hair was dark and long; the flesh was dry and clung tight to the bones, with the appearance of having undergone a special preparation for shipment. The head was twisted to one side, the right arm was torn from its socket, the legs also being torn from the body, apparently by violence, for the purpose of crowding the body into the box.


Detectives were summoned and the remains were carefully restored to the heavy oak box and hauled to the Allegheny police station and the coroner notified to hold an inquest. An effort was then made to find the colored ash-hauler who had deposited the box at the river. Late in the afternoon he was apprehended and created the utmost consternation by the statement that he had taken the box from the ash vault of the Pittsburgh Female College. Thither the detectives rushed with all possible speed and excitedly summoned the Rev. Dr. I.C. Pershing, ex-president of the college.


To the reverend gentleman the detectives unfolded the details of the terrible find, how it had been traced to the institution and demanded an explanation. Dr. Pershing was speechless, and it was only by the greatest effort that he could find breath to exclaim "Mummy".


Night began to dawn on the minds of the detectives, and as soon as their mirth could be controlled an explanation followed. Several years ago a missionary friend of the doctor's had sent him a fine specimen of a female mummy from Peru in South America to be placed in the college museum. It had been on exhibition for a long time and had been removed to the cellar while the museum was being repaired. While in the cellar rats had so defaced it that it could not again be placed on exhibition, and it had been ordered removed. The ghastly find which created so much excitement is supposed to be 3,000 years old.

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