AHRENSBURG, GERMANY — The FlourWorld Museum in Wittenburg, Germany, has added an interactive theme room on the “Gods of Grain,” which explores the ancient world of deities and harvest rites.
The exhibition traces the significance of grain from the myths of the early advanced civilizations to the monotheistic world religions. A feature of the collection is a 2,000-year-old corn mummy, that allows an insight into the realm of the ancient Egyptian gods. It is a loan from the Austrian businessman and bread expert Peter Augendopler, the founder of the “Paneum” — House of Bread — in Asten near Linz.
In the center of the new theme room “Gods of Grain” is the corn mummy, still in its well-preserved sarcophagus in which it was to be buried over 2,000 years ago. It is a falcon-headed representation of Sokar and Osiris, the gods of the dead. Molded out of silt from the Nile, with grains of barley and emmer, the mummy stands for the germinating power of corn and the principle of life itself. As a burial gift, this power was said to have a magical effect on the soul of the deceased. Although there were once countless corn mummies of this kind, fewer than 200 examples of an Osiris-Sokar sarcophagus are now preserved worldwide.
“Gods of Grain” illustrates that corn was already a symbol of divine power even in ancient times. The evolution of this topic from the early advanced civilizations to the monotheistic religions shows the grain of corn as a symbol of life to be a recurring motif in different religious contexts.
FlourWorld curator Oliver Seifert designed the multimedia exhibition room as an interactive journey through the history of grain in its connection with religion: a smartphone-based Audio Guide offers visitors background information, and an animation film created by students of video art illustrates the role of grain in the monotheistic religions.
“Gods of Grain” is the second in a series of extensions that began in 2017 with the overall exhibition “Flour. Power. Life.”
The modern exhibition concept seeks to demonstrate the significance of the apparently unremarkable product “flour” in the history of mankind. Not only did it once ensure man’s very survival: since the Neolithic Revolution some 10,000 years ago it has served as the foundation of every state or kingdom beyond the size of a tribal society. As an impressive symbol of the history of grain-growing in prehistoric times, a replica of “Ötzi the Iceman” greets visitors to the multimedia exhibition. The body of the mummy found in the glacial ice of the Ötztal Alps is perfectly preserved and offers us a direct insight into a time 5,300 years ago, the early days of agriculture in Europe. In the hem of his fur coat, two grains of ancient corn were found. The replica is the only one of its kind anywhere in Germany. It was developed in close cooperation with the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano on the basis of a CAT scan of the mummy’s skeleton. The fur clothing, shoes and copper axe were made according to the original finds.
Designed as a “Forum for Cereal Science,” the museum includes a conference center with seminar and event rooms.
From March to October the museum is open to visitors from 13:00 to 17:00 on every first and third Saturday in the month and on every Sunday from 11:00 to 17:00. From November to February it opens its doors from 11:00 to 17:00 on every first and third Sunday. Further visits are also possible with an appointment.