A thorough exploration of a topic that is perennially alluring to children--and their elders. Beginning with the earliest mummies, inadvertently produced when bodies were buried in the dry desert sand, Perl traces the evolution of burial practices as Egyptian society and technology became more complex, till the advent of Christianity introduced new customs. Giving enough detail about the task of making mummies to satisfy the most avid curiosity, she carefully relates the process to the Egyptians' religious beliefs and, more briefly, their political chronology. The Egyptians left us an unrivaled record of their past; Peri makes clear the importance of the physical record as a key to history. In two fascinating concluding chapters, she describes the depredations of grave robbers and the uses of mummies--with millions available, they were used as both fuel and fertilizer; the linen wrappings were recycled as paper; and, till the 18th century, mummy powder was a basic pharmaceutical ingredient (this sheds some light on the glimpse of a delegate to the Constitutional Convention venturing to taste a mummy in Jean Fritz's book, reviewed above). Weihs' drawing embellish and inform. The many black-and-white photos add a great deal of information to the clear, logically developed text; the several photos of mummy faces are breathtakingly vivid. A fine addition to the ancient-history shelf. Bibliography; index.