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Mummy Congress

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  719 ratings  ·  83 reviews
The Mummy Congress takes us on a journey over five continents and back nearly 7,000 years. Pringle tells how mummies have been venerated as saints, fought over by politicians, collected as artistic treasures and investigated for clues to ancient civilization's drug use. In these pages lie child mummies of northern Chile, preserved household pets of ancient Egypt and the ne ...more
Published (first published January 1st 2001)
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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  719 ratings  ·  83 reviews


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K.D. Absolutely
Creepy yet very informative. The kind of information that you can get only from actually reading a book. You see, there is not too many mummy experts in this world.

Mummy experts are those who work on this solitary and thankless job: studying the mummies around the world. They dissect the long-dead and determine how long they have been dead, what was done to their body that they were able to defy the natural process of decomposition, the cause of their deaths, etc. In doing these, they hope to un
...more
Antigone
Mar 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Science journalist Heather Pringle provides a lively and entertaining report on the status of mummies in the new millennium. Filled with history, clever character sketches, curiosities and fascinations - the pages turn at a swift clip to address not only the Egyptian standard, but mummies from around the globe.

Were you aware of the discovery of an entire community of well-preserved Caucasian corpses (circa twenty-first century B.C.) in the northwestern corner of China? Good, because the Chinese
...more
Victoria Blacke
I bought this book because I have a passing interest in ancient civilizations and Egyptology. The title in particular is what grabbed my attention. I believe this book was written for someone with similar inclinations, NOT for the hardcore intellectual or enthusiast who professes to know all the in and outs on the subject. Keep in mind the author herself is a journalist whose interest in the subject was sparked after covering the Mummy Congress; she is not a history professor or archeologist. I ...more
Lena Wright
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once upon a time, I trained to be a bioarchaeologist in college, with a specialty in mortuary archaeology. As such, this book is certainly right up my alley - it's effectively a "How It Works" for these particular fields.

This book is a fascinating, in-depth look at the world of bioarchaeology and how it pertains to the study of ancient human remains. The focus is, as the title implies, mummies.

If you find mummies, death rituals and funerary rites, or relatable popular science tales interesting,
...more
Barbara Meyer
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: archeology
I had no idea there would be so much to learn about mummies. The author is a freelance science writer who learns of a little-known conference, the World Conference on Mummy Studies, being held in a remote region of Chile, and promises her editor she’d bring back a story about a mummy coming to life if he sends her. That story didn’t happen, but what she does find is a passionate group of specialists devoted the preserved dead. She spends the next year visiting these scientists around the world t ...more
Nikki
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Mummies are always fascinating to me, at least in non-fiction, and this book was especially so because it covers a lot of ground, from Inca child sacrifices to Stalin to ancient bog bodies. It’s the kind of book I love, with something new (but related) in each chapter, introducing new sites and concepts I wasn’t aware of without going into any one thing exhaustively. I found myself googling for images to match the text.

The only thing I would really criticise is the hyperbolic breathlessness abou
...more
Daphyne Shimeall
Pringle attends a conference on mummies (The Mummy Congress) and pursues the topics presented in papers at the conference. Her research takes her to the tombs of Egypt to the bogs of the Netherlands to the peaks of the Andes. An enjoyable approachable read. I’m interested in pursuing what further research has been done since 2001 (publ date) on several of the famous mummies mentioned in the book.
Megan Mccarter
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-reading
4.5 Stars

An enlightening read on almost anything you could want to know about mummies throughout history
Tom Schulte
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really appreciate my colleague Tony thinking to loan me this book. I love detailed accounts of obsessive subcultures and the insular, scientific world of mummy specialists qualifies. This was a thought-provoking work. One of the controversies in the field is whether to do destructive autopsies on mummies. I had hoped for a middle ground: at most use the accurate, tiny tools of laparoscopic surgery and digital laparoscopes. However, a close look at the work of an avid dissector convinced me: to ...more
Alger
Sep 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is something missing from the heart of this book, something vital that would push it over the edge and into something great. There is certainly nothing wrong with the writing, which is friendly and accurate. The descriptions and characterizations are detailed and engaging. Neither is it the topic, because Pringle found plenty of interesting and surprising anecdotes to fill the pages. Instead, I feel it was the episodic approach the book takes to the topic, moving from one variety of mummy ...more
Allyson
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-challenge
I expected something very different from what I ended up reading when I picked up The Mummy Congress. Most reviews led me to believe I'd be reading a mere history of mummies. While the book does give a overview of the history of mummies, it also delves into the odd world of those who study mummies. Through telling the story of these meticulous and eccentric researchers, Pringle reveals the world of mummies to the casual enthusiast.

I don't recommend this book to those who are easily grossed out
...more
Kirsten
Feb 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After Heather Pringle attended the Mummy Congress, an academic convention for the archaeologists and others who specialize in the study of mummified humans, she was so fascinated that she sought out experts in the field to help satisfy her curiosity about mummies. Along the way, she also reflects on why we are so fascinated by mummies, and what that fascination has historically meant for the treatment of mummified humans. This is a really interesting book, since it reveals the scope of mummy res ...more
Keith
Oct 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This would be a very absorbing book for the uninitiated. With a lifelong interest in the subject, however, I tire of the way authors breathlessly emphasise Caucasian mummies. I think they're typically not really conscious of the difference in their responses to, for instance, the ancient Tarim Basin peoples. While in The Mummies of Urumchi, Elizabeth Wayland Barber clearly can't get over her Eurocentrism, to Heather Pringle's credit, she does acknowledge that conservatives actively want new find ...more
Janice Salmon
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book at a yard sale, the cover title caught my eye., so for 25 cents why not. I really enjoyed it. Loved that I got a glimpse into the world of mummy studies. Because it was not written by a scholar it was pleasure to read. As a child I read a piece of fiction that was written about a mummy and how the author thought she came to be in the bog. I loved that book and have read anything about mummies since.
Kristen
Apr 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I should preface this by saying that I have been somewhat obsessed with mummies myself since at least the 4th grade. So to find a book that was all about mummies- but written for adults and not 4th graders was exciting. I learned so many interesting things reading this book- my favorite being that they used to make paint out of ground up mummies. But I think what I appreciated most was the look at mummies globally (not just Egyptian mummies) and what we are learning from them scientifically.
Sarah Sammis
Dec 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pc, read-in-2005, released
I really enjoyed this book and learned a few things too. The text is easy to understand for someone outside the fields of study covered in this book. I like how each chapter is focused on one topic rather then trying to write a chronological piece. Being able to focus on parasites for an entire chapter made reading much easier than having to keep track of a bunch of names and dates.
Jessica
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book. The pictures included are surreal. So many of the mummies pictured have been preserved so well that it is almost unnerving. Great information included and very interesting facts about mummies, archeaology and humanly preservation.
Doug Walters
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most enjoyable and fascinating books I've read in years. If you've even a passing interest in mummies and the history of cool skeletal discoveries, you owe it to yourself to read this book!
Andreas Schmidt
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
è affascinante ma...
Devo ammettere di aver provato una certa ripugnanza nell'aprire questo libro (l'ho comprato nel mio solito "scouting" di letture interessante - compro e accumulo, poi leggerò). Comincia parlando di convegni sulle mummie (si potrebbe dire, ma chi se ne frega?), in realtà tra le pagine di questo libro si nasconde una serie di informazioni interessanti, sulla chimica del corpo umano dopo la morte, informazioni sulle mummie (le ricerche della Balabanova sulle mummie egizie) e una
...more
Kylee Ehmann
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating overview of humanity's global fascination with mummies told by the scientists, anthropologists and researchers who dedicated their lives to the study and care of the ancient dead. Going in, I thought this book would focus on Egyptian mummies only, and be more of a general overview of the world's (though mostly white Europe and America's) obsession with them. I was so wrong--the book spends surprisingly little time in Egypt for a book about mummies. Pringle goes from Egypt to China ...more
Alberto Della Rossa
Saggio molto bello, coinvolgente e ben scritto sul mondo delle mummie. Ma, soprattutto, un libro non banale, con considerazioni e osservazioni molto acute.
Kate Savage
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Utterly charming book about mummies.
Amanda Ariela
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A resenha de hoje vai causar um grande estranhamento para aqueles que vem aqui esperando resenhas de romances da Meg Cabot e da Carina Rissi. Por vezes, eu deixo escapar aqui que tenho um gosto secreto por livros de não-ficção – são um dos meus guilty pleasures! Já resenhei livros científicos e engraçadinhos como o “E Se?” e o “Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Bodies“.

“O Mundo das Múmias”, de Heather Pringle, dá um pouco de continuidade ao que eu aprendi com “Stiff”. Se neste, falávamos sobre ca
...more
Emily
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-authors
The book is interesting and a leisurely read until it reaches it’s closing arguments, which are terrible. Over all the book is an a hap-hazard investigation of the of a number of fields within mummy studies and archeology. It seems that Pringle has selected the juiciest and most grotesque aspects of the field to detail as both a self-aware pandering to the public and her own morbid fascination in the topics. Pringle looks into the public’s morbid fascination with mummies as well, and concedes th ...more
Samuel Wells
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Mummy Congress is an enjoyable read for mummy aficionados. Topics range from Andean interments to the unexpected Buddhist practices in Japan. I was particularly interested of the Soviet science in human preservation tied to the cult of Lenin, and with the evidence of early European migrations to China. Pringle has done her homework and writes well.
kellyn
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book explained in detail the cultural significance and scientific elements involved in preserving human bodies in places around the world. I hadn't realized how many different cultures practiced preservation of the dead.

I appreciated all the research the author did, citing over 4 pages of other books and research journals. There were numerous interviews with cultural anthropologists, pathologists, archaeologists, and biologists throughout the book to make it really engaging and very info
...more
Tracey
Found this while browsing the local library's collection under "forensic science".

The author starts off with a visit to the Third World Congress on Mummy Studies - a conference for paleontologists, pathologists and anyone else who is interested/obsessed with mummies. She then visits with experts from around the world, visiting China, Japan, South America and (of course) Egypt. Her focus is primarily on current-day studies, although one chapter does deal with the history of Egyptology. One sligh
...more
Ushore
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historians
Whoever would have thought that a book about mummification could be an engrossing read – and for someone extraordinarily squeamish! “The Mummy Congress” is precisely that.
Written in a flowing and gossipy style, the book is about the preservation of the dead, from the rituals of Egypt to our own, modern times; from intentional mummification to that accidental. True, the theme is bizarre and the photographs – well I snipped them out immediately, well I mean! – but what a superb read. One of the mo
...more
Khaki
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I listened to the audio version of this book, read by the delightfully talented Anna Fields. She made Pringle's hauntingly beautiful writing style come to life. Everything Pringle saw, I saw, with great detail. And Pringle herself has a way of explaining the scientific world with intelligence and comprehendability that makes this book as fascinating as it is relatable; she mixes the science of discovery with the emotions that connect us with these mummies that once walked our Earth.

It would not
...more
Lara
I really enjoyed this! It's very well organized; each chapter covers a different topic relating to mummies, some of them quite surprising, and ends right back where it started--at the Mummy Congress in Arica, Chile, just at the edge of the Atacama desert. It's a journalistic book (imagine a really, really long National Geographic article, but quite a bit less dry) rather than a scientific type book--enough information on various topics to get you more interested, but not enough to become tedious ...more
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