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MUMMIES, BONES, AND BODY PARTS by Charlotte Wilcox Kirkus Star

MUMMIES, BONES, AND BODY PARTS

By Charlotte Wilcox

Age Range: 9 - 13

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 2000
ISBN: 1-57505-428-0
Publisher: Carolrhoda

The author of the award-winning Mummies & Their Mysteries (1993) returns to the intriguing subject of mummies. Here she explains how they are formed, how scientists use a variety of sophisticated techniques to learn about peoples and cultures of long ago, and some of the controversies surrounding the study of human remains. As with the previous title, the photographs presented here are striking, from the Inca child who appears on the front cover, to the mummy of Egyptian King Seti I, which appears on the back. Other photographs show some of the first tattoos, details of the Iceman, an Italian child who died of smallpox 400 years ago, the remains of light-haired Caucasian mummies from Xinjiang, China, and the well-preserved bodies of Philip Calvert, governor of Maryland from 1660 to 1661. The science is impressive, as carbon-14 dating, CT scans, DNA profiling, and X-rays are used to solve ancient mysteries. What were the people like? What did they eat? When did they die? What caused their death? What were the diseases they suffered? The author also discusses the controversies as different cultures clash over studying human remains. She mentions the Native American Graves Protection and Reparation Act which gives Native Americans control over native remains buried on government land or held in collections owned or funded by the government, and discusses former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s, efforts to house Egyptian mummies in a more dignified way. Though Wilcox discusses respect for the dead, she nonetheless pictures the controversial “Human Body Art” of German artist Gunther von Hagens, and “Sylvester,” a mummy used to greet customers in a shop in Seattle. Also pictured are the remains of an outlaw put on display for 65 years as a moneymaking exhibit for a funeral parlor. The author concludes with a glossary, extensive bibliography including Web sites, and a detailed index. Intriguing science, dramatically presented. (Nonfiction. 9-13)