Describes the origins and purpose of mummification, clears up misconceptions about mummies, and looks at recent scientific studies.
In this definitive book of the mummy and the Egyptian way of death, Christine El Mahdy reveals how to practice of mummification arose, how it was perfected, and how it came to play a central part in the ancient Egyptian quest for eternal life. In medieval times mummies were crushed to become aphrodisiacs; a hundred years ago the "unwrapping of a mummy from Egypt" was billed as an entertainment; and the twentieth century has created its own superstition in the fabled "Curse of the Pharaohs." Yet the present century has also witnessed the birth of the first truly scientific studies of mummies, culminating in the major projects currently under way all round the world. "Mummies, Myth and Magic" gives for the first time a full account of the work in progress in Europe and the United States to discover from mummies how the ancient Egyptians lived - what they ate, the illnesses they suffered from, the medical techniques available to help them and how they died. Controversial issues such as the rehydrating of tissues and the attempt to clone cells from long-dead pharaohs are also addressed. Featuring specially commissioned diagrams of tombs and royal burial chambers, and a Factfile listing mummies held by major international museums and institutions, this is the most comprehensive volume yet produced on an eternally fascinating subject.