Culture

TSA says it's OK to carry a mummified head on a plane

Got a mummified head? Need to fly somewhere in the US with it? No problem! Just make sure you declare it.

The Transportation Security Administration in the US has earned a pretty bad rap for spending gobs of money on a simple app, getting mad at teenagers and gawking at naked passengers.

Somebody in the social media department, however, has a sense of humor. The TSA shared a post on Instagram Tuesday about how it's A-OK to bring a mummified head on board your next flight.

The TSA runs an AskTSA service through Twitter and Facebook Messenger that lets travelers inquire about what they can take on a plane and what needs to stay home. Someone sent in this rather odd request: "wondering if it's OK to bring this mummified head of Jeremy Bentham as a carry-on item. Thanks!"

The TSA responded with "Jeremy Bentham's mummified head is allowed in carry-on as long as it's properly packaged, labeled, and declared."

Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher who died in 1832, but not before requesting that a physician friend publicly dissect him and then preserve him as an "auto-icon." This was achieved by clothing his skeleton in one of his suits, sitting it on a chair and displaying it inside a wood cabinet. Originally, Bentham's preserved head was supposed to be attached to the auto-icon, but it turned out to be pretty gross, so a wax replica was made instead.

Bentham was into utilitarianism, social reforms and animal rights. The auto-icon is on display at the University College of London. If you can't visit him in person, you can still check out the scenery thanks to a webcam mounted on his cabinet.

Chances are, nobody is actually going to show up at an airport with the mummified head of Jeremy Bentham stashed in a suitcase. The head is kept in climate-controlled storage at the University College London Institute of Archaeology where it is "continually monitored by conservation staff."

(Via Nerd Approved)