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The Mummy Congress : Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead
by Heather Pringle | Nonfiction
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 9/26/2017
Average 8 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by GoryDetails): travelling

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1 journaler for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, September 26, 2017

8 out of 10

I found this good-condition hardcover at a local Savers thrift shop, and nabbed it for another release copy.

This is a fascinating book about mummies - not just the well-known Egyptian kind, but a wide variety of mummies from all over the world. It opens with the author's attendance at the international "Mummy Congress" held every three years; as described, this sounds a lot like a science fiction convention, with the attendees greeting each other like long-lost family and engaging in outrageous jokes, marathon eating and drinking sessions - and the highly diverting talks and slide shows featuring an assortment of body parts seldom seen outside forensic pathology get-togethers. [OK, the science fiction fans don't go for the body parts quite so much, but their choice of subjects for talks and presentations is about as offbeat!]

The kinds of mummies described range from naturally-preserved bodies found in desert areas, including some recently-discovered mummies dating from the Crusade, to frozen mummies in the high mountains (sacrificial victims in the Andes, lost climbers in the Himalayas), to the bog bodies of western Europe. There's a chapter on the Incorruptibles (the bodies of saints, apparently preserved miraculously); many of these turned out to have been embalmed after all, but a few did seem to be among the naturally-mummified bodies that turn up now and then. [There's a lovely - er, to corpse fans, anyway - section about the Necropolis Company in London, which specializes in the relocation of bodies, a full-time job in a place where church crypts may need to be rebuild or graveyards shifted. The management documents all the bodies they disinter, and sometimes they come across centuries-old bodies in truly remarkable states of preservation - in contrast to the majority of remains, which have either gone skeletal, turned to soup, or converted into adipocere.] There's also a section on Lenin and the Russian team that embalmed him; I'd already read Zbarsky's book on the subject, Lenin's Embalmers, but this book presents a nice summary.

The focus of the book isn't just on the variety of mummies that occur, but on the potential benefits of studying mummies and some of the ethical issues arising (such as whether to autopsy - and thus destroy - them or attempt to study them with non-intrusive methods only). There are obvious historical benefits to studying ancient mummies, but there are others as well, including medical and pharmacological knowledge. Overall, a very interesting read.  

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Little Free Library, Heritage Rail Trail in Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, October 23, 2017

This book has not been rated.

Released 8 mos ago (10/24/2017 UTC) at Little Free Library, Heritage Rail Trail in Nashua, New Hampshire USA


I left this in the Little Free Library on the rail-trail on this warm afternoon. Hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2017 Spooktacular October release challenge. ***

*** Released for the 2017 Tick Tock release challenge. *** 

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