The Mummy Congress by Heather Pringle
Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead

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Synopsis

When acclaimed science journalist Heather Pringle was dispatched to a remote part of northern Chile to cover a little-known scientific conference, she found herself in the midst of the most passionate gathering of her working life -- dozens of mummy experts lodged in a rambling seaside hotel, battling over the implications of their latest discoveries. Infected with their mania, Pringle spent the next year circling the globe, stopping in to visit the leading scientists so she could see firsthand the breathtaking delicacy and unexpected importance of their work.

In The Mummy Congress, she recounts the intriguing findings from her travels, bringing to life the hitherto unknown worlds of the long-dead, and revealing what mummies have to tell us about ourselves. Pringle's journeys lead her to the lifelike remains of medieval saints entombed in Italy's grand cathedrals, eerily preserved bog bodies in the Netherlands bearing signs of violent and untimely slaughter, and frozen Inca princess glimpsed for the first time atop icy mountains. She learns of the extraordinary skills of ancient Egyptian embalmers capable of preserving bodies, in the words of one mummy expert, "until the end of time"; of the horrifying sacrifices made by ancient South Americans to pacify their gods; and of the weird mummified parasites, preserved in the guts of millennia-old bodies, that still wreak havoc across the world today.

Ranging from the famous excavation of Tutankhamen to tales of ascetic Japanese monks trying to mummify themselves, and from the Russians' terrified attempts to embalm the body of Stalin to the fleeting craze for public mummy unwrappings in nineteenth-century New Orleans, The Mummy Congress demonstrates that our own obsession with the preserved dead has a long and bizarre history. Packed with extraordinary stories and narrated with great humor and verve, The Mummy Congress is a compelling and entertaining journey into the world of the everlasting dead.

 

About Heather Pringle

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Published January 1, 2001 by Barnes & Noble Books. 368 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Young Adult, History, Science & Math, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

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Mummies were also used as an ingredient in paint - we see a picture of one tube labelled simply "Mummy" - and when Lawrence Alma-Tadema found his colourman at work grinding up a mummy, he was so shocked that he immediately went to tell Edward Burne-Jones where "Mummy" really came from.

Jul 06 2001 | Read Full Review of The Mummy Congress : Science,...

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