Mummifying Alan: Egypt’s Last Secret.
(Something intriguing I watched 6 or so months ago).
Alan Billis, a British taxi driver diagnosed with lung cancer and given only 6 months to live, was the first person in 3000 years to be traditionally mummified by the hands of specialists, including forensic archeologists and Egyptologists.
Alan was non-religious and very matter of fact about dying. All he wanted was something as simple as being buried in a cardboard box with no fuss. The idea of becoming a body donor for such an interesting program intrigued him and he volunteered himself after spying the advertisement in the paper (he was the only person to offer his services!). His sense of humour allowed him to be distracted from his illness, joking about becoming Tutankhamun’s modern day counterpart, ‘Tutan-Alan’.
Now, thanks to Alan, scientists have finally worked out how pharoahs dating back to before 1,000BC were preserved. Though it is a more sped up process, the details of preservation were followed to the tee of what we know from Egyptian historical writings and artworks. His corpse was put through a variety of special techniques used by the ancient Egyptians to mummify their beloved pharaohs. They were as follows-
-Making a 4 inch incision on the left side of Alan’s body, to remove all organs except the heart and stored in glass jars. The brain was also left in tact.
-The body was sterilised and washed out with a solution of alcohol and pine resin, which was used as an anti-bacterial agent.
-To restore the shape of the body, the cavity was packed with linen bags of sawdust and spices.
-The incision was stitched then sealed with hot beeswax.
-The body was coated with pine oil, pine resin and beeswax and left to dry.
- It was then soaked in a natron salt and water bath for 35 days to slow down decay.
- After the bath the body and organs were put in a drying chamber for 2 weeks to replicate the temperature and humidity of Egypt.
-The final step was to wrap the mummy in linen strips and leave it to dry for a further 6 weeks.
The program shows the entire process, including months down the track when scans of the body were taken to see what the body structure was like under the bandages. His hands, feet and face were then unwrapped to check the look and feel of his skin from the completion of their efforts.
Alan is now on display at London’s Gordon Museum. His body will still be used as an educational tool for bio-archaeologists, archaeological chemists and archaeologists in general. And not unlike ancient specimens there will an ongoing scientific study and analysis of the mummy generally and periodically by way of tissue samples.
Reblog because I am so proud of this post. Also i’d love to know how he looks now.