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Curse of the mummy's tummy

Posted by Jan Freeman, keep until April  August 13, 2007 01:30 PM

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Last Monday the New York Times reported what a CT scan revealed about the insides of "Demetrios," a 2000-year-old Egyptian mummy owned by the Brooklyn Museum:

Dr. Boxt also spotted a tiny mass in the mummy's abdominal captivity measuring about 1.2 inches across. Curators and conservators suggested that it was a scarab.

That same day, the Times's corrections box confessed to having misspelled Alberto Gonzales's name at least 14 times and the name of the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher at least 50 times (since 1958). But a week later, there has been no mention of the "abdominal captivity" malapropism.

It might be a spellcheck-induced mistake, but I haven't found a plausible misspelling of cavity that makes Word suggest subtituting captivity. (Nexis, which is smarter than Word -- not that that's saying much -- asks if I mean to search "abdominal CAPACITY.")

So maybe it's just a slip. A rare one -- Google turns up only three other examples of "abdominal captivity" -- and apparently one that doesn't punch readers in the eye (or the gut). And unlike the attorney general, Demetrios is in no position to complain.


(CT scan of an Egyptian mummy -- though not Demetrios -- from the University of Illinois Mummy Project.)
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