With these three texts, you will unearth the mystery of mummies. From the Caucasian mummies of Urumchi to the 60 gilded and intact mummies discovered near Cairo, these books introduce you to the fascinating techniques of mummification. The clues that these carefully preserved bodies reveal about ancient times will leave you mummified. Follow the links below to order.

Mummies of Ürümchi, TheMummies of Ürümchi, Thepadby Elizabeth Wayland Barber

In the museums of Ürümchi, the wind-swept regional capital of the Uyghur Autonomous Region in Western China—what we know as Chinese Turkestan—a collection of ancient mummies lay at the center of an enormous mystery. Some of Ürümchi’s mummies date back as far as 4,000 years—contemporary to the famous Egyptian mummies, but even more beautifully preserved, especially their clothing. Surprisingly, these prehistoric people are not Asian but Caucasoid—tall and large-nosed and blond with thick beards and round eyes (probably blue). What were these blond Caucasians doing in the heart of Asia? Where did they come from and what language did they speak? Might they be related to a “lost tribe” of Indo-Europeans known from later inscriptions? Few gifts are to be found in the graves of Ürümchi, making it difficult for archaeologists to pinpoint cultural connections from clues offered by pottery and tools. But their clothes—woolens that rarely survive more than a few centuries—have been preserved as brightly hued as the day they were woven.

Elizabeth Wayland Barber, one of the world’s leading scholars on ancient textiles and author of Women’s Work, describes these remarkable mummies, their clothing, their shepherding ways, and their path to this remote, mysterious, and forbidding place. She pieces together their history and peculiar Western connections from both what she saw in Ürümchi and the testimony of explorers who traveled along the Silk Road a century earlier. The result is a book like no other—a fascinating and informative unveiling of an ancient, exotic, and nearly forgotten world.

---from W.W. Norton

Originally published in hardcover in 1999.

Norton, 2000, 240 p., color plates/b&w; photos/illus., paperback
Mummies of Ürümchi, The
Conversations with MummiesConversations with Mummiespadby Rosalie David and Rick Archbold

Thousands of years ago, their bodies were carefully prepared for the journey to the afterlife. Today, state-of-the-art technology allows researchers to examine more closely than ever before these people who have remained so miraculously preserved through time. In this lavishly illustrated book, internationally acclaimed paleopathologist Rosalie David and writer Rick Archbold guide us through the fascinating world of Egyptian mummies and the international teams who study them. In an absorbing text, we meet ancient people from every walk of life-from pharaohs to peasants-and learn how they lived and why they died. High-tech autopsies uncover the agonizing afflictions that spared no one. And with electron microscopes and DNA testing, scientists can look deeper still, to reveal the secrets hidden inside 3,000-year-old cells-secrets that may one day help provide cures for modern illness.

Conversations with Mummies also conveys a wealth of information about daily life in the time of the pharaohs. Features and sidebars provide new insights into everything from the family trees of the pharaohs to the hypnotic appeal of the blue lotus flower. And amazing images demonstrate how the latest forensic techniques allow artists to reconstruct the faces of mummies, so that these ancient people almost seem able to speak to us from across the centuries.

--from William Morrow

Outside Egypt, one of the finest collections of Egyptian mummies is housed at the Manchester Museum in England. David currently holds the position as Keeper of Egyptology at the museum and has spearheaded the Manchester Mummy Project-a program devoted to understanding disease and the cause of death in mummies and establishing standards for autopsies of mummies. With the aid of writer Archbold, David escorts readers through mummy autopsies showing how she and other paleopathologists glean information from 3,000-year-old corpses and what this information tells us about causes of their deaths, as well as their ways of life. A plethora of color photographs and illustrations bring the authors' words to life.

--from Science News

Morrow, 2000, 192 p., color photos/illus.,9" X 9 3/4", hardcover
Conversations with Mummies
Valley of the Golden MummiesValley of the Golden Mummiespadby Zahi Hawass

A few years ago, an oasis in the middle of the desert 230 miles southwest of Cairo yielded a spectacular discovery: a group of intact Egyptian tombs containing at least 60 gilded mummies, and perhaps hundreds more. In Valley of the Golden Mummies, archaeologist Zahi Hawass reveals his first-hand experiences at this unprecedented site, with an exciting narrative liberally illustrated by photographs taken during the excavation.

The Valley of the Golden Mummies came to light by accident, when a donkey stumbled across a hole in the sand. The tombs containing the mummies date to the first and second centuries A.D., when Egypt was ruled by Rome. These are not royal remains but rather the mummies of wealthy individuals, probably merchants, who appear to have been buried in family groups, surrounded by funerary objects, jewelry, and other artifacts. At the time of publication, only five mummies had been removed from the tombs and put on display at a museum in Bahariya, and the excavation site will remain closed to the public. This book will therefore be the only way one may see what lies within these mysterious graves.

--from Abrams

For the past 4 years, Hawass has served as field director to one of the most amazing excavations in ancient Egyptian history: that of the tombs of the Bahariya Oasis. This ancient burial site has so far revealed 60 gilded mummies dating from the first and second centuries A.D. Unlike so many other sites, this tomb, the area of which may be as big as 4 square miles, shows no evidence of looting. That happenstance has left intact a bounty of artifacts, including elaborate golden masks, funerary objects, and jewelry. The condition of the mummies appears to be almost as they were when the tomb was sealed 2,000 years ago. Hawass reports on this ongoing project. His insightful text is enhanced by loads of stunning color photographs of the tombs and their contents. This site will remain closed to the public. This captivating book, then, is so far, the only way to visit this treasure trove in the desert.

--from Science News

Abrams, 2000, 224 p., color photos/illus., 10" X 12", hardcover
Valley of the Golden Mummies

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