‘The Mummy’ – Imhotep and Anuck-Su-Namun

Though the film itself is fictional, many names of characters used in the film and its sequels are from real life people from the history of Ancient Egypt. For instance Imhotep was the name of a very famous Ancient Egyptian, who lived during the 3rd dynasty (the Old Kingdom c. 27th century B.C.). He is acknowledged as the first architect because he designed and built Djoser’s famous Step Pyramid at Saqqara. He was also renown for his medical abilities. Evidence of this was found on the bodies of people who worked under Imhotep. It is clear from some of their bones that they underwent some sort of surgery, they were even some who were found with precise, and intentional, holes in their heads. This was clearly an ancient form of head surgery.

Statue of the architect/physician Imhotep who would later be worshipped as a god

Arnold Vosloo as the High Priest Imhotep in 'The Mummy' (1999)


Imhotep is the only human (aside pharaohs) who became a god after his death and is known as the god of medicine and patron of scribes. He was worshipped as a god until the Coptic Christians wiped out the last of the Ancient Egyptian beliefs. He was even worshipped by the Greeks and the Romans.

In the film of course, the character of Imhotep is quite different from the real historical figure, though they do have some things in common. Both were commoners and both were priests and in a way, they both continued to exist long after they died.

The next historical figure is that of Imhotep’s lover, the mistress of Seti I, Anck-su-namun. Anck-su-namun, or Ankhesenamun as the historical figure is more known, was quite famous. She was one of Akhenaten’s daughters (by Nefertiti?)and she was married to the child-king Tutankhaten, or more famously known as Tutankhamun (late 18th dynasty, New Kingdom, c 16th century B.C.). When he died at the age of nineteen it is thought that Ankhesenamun married Ay, the pharaoh who inherited the throne (though he was a very old man when he became pharaoh). She disappears from history shortly after, and though we do not know where she was buried, she did leave us some evidence of her existence. First it is known that after the death of Tutankhamun she was in contact with the Hittites (an empire that rivaled Egypt in those days) and that a Hittite prince was on his way to marry her when he was killed in an ambush (by Ay?). Second, on the walls of Ay’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings (WV 23 ) it has been discovered that the images of his wife Tey were painted on top of what could only be the images of Ankhesenamun. It is also highly likely that Ay was buried in the tomb that was originally intended for Tutankhamun.

Patricia Velasquez as Anucksunamun in 'The Mummy' (1999)

Ankhesenamun giving flowers to her husband Tutankhamun


First, the character of Anck-su-namon is in the wrong dynasty (Seti I was the second king of the 19th Dynasty, whilst Anukesenamun was from the 18th dynasty), and though she is the mistress of Seti I, she is not so high up in the royal familyhierachy as her historical counterpart. Also, pharaohs had many wives and concubines, like many other cultures, including the Chinese, they believed the more women the merrier.


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