Sunday, March 2, 2008

Unwrapped: The Mysterious World of Mummies

Each mummy is an encyclopedia: A tooth can tell you when they were sick, a hair, what they ate, an x-ray can tell you how they died and CAT-Scans are what we use for the details. Sometimes they reveal that the embalmers weren't always very careful... But in some degree they've all cheated time, so secrets are what they would whisper... if they could whisper. The well-known author of two excellent popular presentations of current Egyptology, Bob Brier skillfully gives voice to his objects of affection: mummies from Asia, Europe, and South America. Brier also shows us how mummies fascinated people in all times and places and have been incomparable source materials for medical, scientific, and religious history. Brier is certainly the right person to present this show since he has a genuine talent and enthusiasm for palaeopathology--the study of ancient human remains. His own research has culminated in the mummification of a modern human, on view in the series. Brier offers insight on mummy-making in ancient Egypt, ancient Peru, and in the Soviet Union, where V.I. Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, was mummified and became a national icon. Ground zero for our knowledge of mummy preparation in Egypt is the Greek historian Herodotus, who visited Egypt ca. 450 BCE and described in detail three methods of mummification available in different price ranges. Despite Hollywood's portrayal of mummies, there's no need to think of them as stalkers from an ancient land, Brier assures us. Yes, some certainly were buried alive, murdered, sacrificed, but they're not out for revenge on anybody in our time. Relax, get to know a few mummies, and you'll assuredly find a familiar figure, even make a friend.
Part 1: Mummies Revealed
Egyptians weren't the first to mummify their dead. Travel back through time and to the other side of the world to see how South Americans have been mummifying their dead since 5000 BCE. Learn how one of the most famous historical personalities has been made into a mummy this century.


Part 2: Secrets of the Mummies
In this episode we explore the dark world of human sacrifice and how mummies can tell us about the world they lived in and how they died. Apart from telling us about the parasites that nearly every ancient Egyptian carried inside their bodies, mummy scientists are also making major discoveries about modern day diseases like Spina Bifida.

Part 3: The Power of Mummies
This final episode looks at the last taboo: death. Bob Brier shows how our endless fascination with mummies and horror movies stems from our inability to directly confront our own mortality. However, this is only a recent phenomenon and Bob leads us around the many 'Galleries of the Grotesque' of the last few centuries.


Bounderby said...

It has the English and the Japanese commentary running AT THE SAME TIME. Makes it impossible to watch...pity 'cos it looks good.

Bounderby said...

The English and the Japanese(?) commentary AT THE SAME TIME is kind of weird. Impossible to watch.

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