Tracey's Reviews > The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead

The Mummy Congress by Heather Pringle
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's review
Dec 21, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: libraryread, pop-history

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 slightly off-putting chapter discusses the use of mummies in medicine and even in art - there was actually a pigment called "mummy" made from these ancient remains - it was described as a lovely shade of brown, if I recall correctly.

The most fascinating section to me covered dissecting mummies in order to study ancient disease pathology - and how the community is divided on the topic of dissection. I can see both sides of the argument - both the need to investigate the history of disease, but also the fact that these are human beings who have no say in how their remains are being used.

Not quite as entertainingly written as Stiff: Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, but I would recommended as a library read - possibly a purchase if it fits into your area of expertise/interest.

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