EGYPTIAN MUMMIES: Unraveling the Secrets of an Ancient Art by Bob Brier

EGYPTIAN MUMMIES: Unraveling the Secrets of an Ancient Art

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Everything you always wanted to know about the ancient Egyptian practice of mummifying corpses -- and so much more. Brier (Ancient Egyptian Magic, 1980) sets the tone early: ""For 15 years,"" he states matter-of-factly, ""I had been working toward the goal of mummifying a human."" Imagine his surprise and disappointment when the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University (where he is chairman of the philosophy department) declined the honor of being the site of this project, which among other things would have entailed keeping an unembalmed corpse on the campus for 70 days. The text treats the reader to a scattershot review of the wide variety of information Brier learned about mummies while doing research for the mummification. These range from clinical descriptions of the process (derived from Herodotus and other ancient writers as well as from archaeological evidence) through an account of the development of mummification in ancient Egypt to a fascinating look at medical information scientists have derived from mummies (for instance, that ancient Egyptians suffered from often fatal tooth decay and arterial diseases). Brier discusses French scientists' close, but disappointingly unfruitful, study of Ramses the Great's mummy, briefly takes note of the Egyptian religious and cultural practice of mummifying animals, and inventories famous royal mummies. He concludes rather far afield with a discussion of ""The Mummy in Fiction and Film."" Mercifully, the book closes before he embarks on the macabre task of actually mummifying a medical cadaver in the ancient manner, which is scheduled to take place this summer. A great gift idea for the hard-core Egyptologist in your life. General readers with strong stomachs may also enjoy Brier's eccentric ramble through the ancient world.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1994
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Morrow