I was saddened to hear a few days ago about the fire at the 200 year old National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (9/2/2018). Contained in that building were some of the Andean Mummies which were highly value for research IMO. I find these mummies intriguing to say the least and it saddens me that they will no longer be able to be studied. This museum housed over 20 million artifacts so it was a MAJOR museum for research.
Among the artifacts believed destroyed is the skull known as “Luzia” which was dated at 11.5 kyr and is believed to have been from a Paleoindian woman who was one of the earliest known inhabitants of the Americas. Mummies and artifacts from Egypt were also housed in this museum and now presumed destroyed. It’s currently estimated that only 10% of the artifacts in the museum survived IF that much. Smoke detectors reportedly were not working and the fire suppression system in the building was limited, sadly. I do know that funding for the museum was cut by the Brazilian government not long ago and some are blaming that lack of funding for basically a non-working and inadequate fire suppression system.
Among the “survivors” was a 5.86 ton meteor which is the largest meteor every found in Brazil. It was discovered back in 1784. From what I hear bone fragments have been found in the rubble but they are nothing compared to what this museum once housed. So 200 years of work and research has now gone up in flames and that saddens me to say the least. It always saddens me when artifacts are lost and/or destroyed either by accident or intention. They are all clues to our TRUE history as a species and without them our knowledge and research only slows down and develops voids which we can’t fill in with evidence. Oh we can “fill in the blanks” with a lot of speculation but that’s far different from FACTS. The museum was a popular center for research both for new and seasoned researchers.
I don’t know how far they’ve gotten through the rubble but I’m sure that most of what the museum contained is gone and what is left is likely now pretty useless. We need to protect our heritage and our history all over the world because it IS important! It is all clues to how we as a species came to be as we are today, modern humans. I know many people look at artifacts and think, “Oh they’re just a bunch of old bones” but to researchers like me they are far more than “just old bones.” I want to know where we came from and how we came to be modern humans for certain. I want as many facts as we can possibly gather and I want our theories based on those facts instead of speculation. And I want artifacts protected and not lightly thrown aside because they are our clues to who we are and how we came to be. In my mind there is no such things as “just a bunch of old bones” or “just a piece of old pottery.” We as a species NEED to know and NEED to understand where we came from and how we came to be who and what we are today. All the bones, all the pottery, all the mummies, and all the other artifacts around the world are important and they are the road map to discovery the truth about ourselves as human beings. Without that road map we become lost and our “knowledge” becomes based on false and erroneous assumptions.
BTW I’ve blogged here about Luzia a couple of times which you can find at the following links:
The fire at the museum is a great loss and my heart weeps for such a significant and important loss that we can never recover.