Leading Egyptologist and Mummy Expert Bob Brier’s New Book Presents Surprising Theory of Why Mummies Fascinate
Bernie Fabig,Assistant to the Executive Director of Campus Operations and Strategic Partnerships
Long Island University, LIU Post
Brookville, N.Y. – Mummies and dinosaurs are what every museum curator desires and now a new book by Egyptologist Bob Brier explains what it is about mummies that pulls them in. “Egyptomania: Our Three Thousand Year Old Obsession With the Land of the Pharaohs,” due Nov. 12 from Palgrave Macmillan, chronicles the world’s fascination with ancient Egypt, from Roman women wearing miniature vials of Nile water around their necks to the 1923 hit song, “Old King Tut Was a Wise Old Nut.” Bob Brier will be speaking at LIU Post on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m. in Hillwood Lecture Hall; the same day his new book releases.
Some of this fascination is easy to understand. The pyramids are huge and we wonder how they were built. Egyptian art is stunning and in remarkable condition, protected by Egypt’s dry climate. We all love to hear a good adventure story so we are entranced the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb. It’s all understandable and covered in Brier’s new book, but he also takes on one aspect of Egyptomania not so easy to explain. Why are we fascinated by mummies? While will people line up to see dead bodies?
Brier, a world famous Egyptologist at LIU Post, has spent his life studying mummies of all kinds. In 1994 he became the first person in 2,000 years to mummify a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian manner. This research was the subject of a National Geographic TV special, “Mr. Mummy.” He has also studied mummies around the world from Tutankhamen to Vladimir Lenin.
Formerly the Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities “Egyptology Today” program, Brier has recently been working in paleopathology – the study of diseases in the ancient world. After more than 40 years of working with mummies he began to wonder why the public is so fascinated by them. His new theory suggests it is envy – we want to be like mummies, who seem to have cheated death. We look at a mummy, a recognizable person who died 3,000 years ago, but who hasn’t turned to dust. We stare and we wonder, is it possible to be immortal?
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