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BURY THE DEAD by Christopher Sloan

BURY THE DEAD

Tombs, Corpses, Mummies, Skeletons, and Rituals

By Christopher Sloan

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7922-7192-0
Publisher: National Geographic

Sloan (SuperCroc and the Origins of Crocodiles, not reviewed, etc.) surveys funerary customs around the world, from both archaeological and anthropological standponts. Beginning with the earliest evidence of “burial with care” over 100,000 years ago, he goes on to describe major finds that have cast light on ancient Egyptian, Scythian, Chinese, and pre-Inca practices that left mummies or other preserved remains, then finishes with a sweeping look at current practices, from marble tombstones to sugar Day of the Dead skulls. Writing in consultation with a grief specialist, the author tries for a sober, straightforward narrative tone—which falters when he mentions particularly exotic customs, such as the Yanomami practice of pulverizing and eating their dead, or has to contend with an artist’s reconstruction of Scythian mourners cutting themselves, not to mention the numerous close-up photos of mummies and bones. Still, most of these illustrations and examples are striking without being sensationalistic; both thrill seekers and children seeking some perspective on death or grief will find this rewarding reading. (index, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 11-13)