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C.W. Post Mummy Expert: Remains of Three Wise Men Are Consistent With Historic Descriptions

Dr. Bob Brier’s Investigation Featured on TLC December 23, 2004


Rita Langdon,Associate Provost and Director of Public Relations
C.W. Post Campus,
Long Island University

Brookville, New York -- The Three Wise Men appear on Christmas cards and in Christmas carols around the world, yet the Bible reveals little about them. Now Dr. Bob Brier, a senior research fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University and "Mummy Detective" on the TLC network, reveals new clues about the first people to worship Christ.

Skulls said to be those of the Three Wise Men, housed at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany since the 12th century, are consistent with descriptions of the Magi in 6th- and 8th-century texts --Melchior, an old man; Gaspar, a young man; and Balthazar, in the middle, Brier said.

Technicians at C.W. Post enlarged a high-resolution photograph of the skulls and Brier, one of the world's foremost authorities on mummies and ancient human remains, determined their relative ages from the cranial sutures.

"This doesn't prove that the skeletal remains in the Cologne Cathedral are the Three Wise Men, but it does show that the bones are consistent with the legend," Brier said.

"Mummy Detective: The Three Kings" on TLC follows Brier and his investigative team as they uncover the story of the Magi. The one-hour special premieres Thursday, December 23 at 9 p.m.

"Mummy Detective: The Three Kings" showcases historians who believe the Wise Men were Zoroastrian priests from Persia, today Iran. Their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child were the first Christmas presents.

Unlike many European religious relics that have been found to be medieval fakes, the cloth in which the bones were wrapped dates back to the 3rd century or earlier, making it plausible the bones themselves are from the time of Christ, according to Brier.

The Cologne Cathedral was constructed in the 12th century to house the remains of the Three Wise Men, and is the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe. The shrine that houses the bones is considered one of the finest examples of medieval gold work.

In October, TLC aired "Mummy Detective: Crypt of the Medici," Brier’s investigation of the remains of the Medici family who were aristocrats and patrons of the arts in Renaissance Italy. Brier found that some ancient tales of murder among family members were myths.

Brier is the author of "The Murder of Tutankhamen," "Egyptian Mummies: Unraveling the Secrets of an Ancient Art," "Ancient Egyptian Magic" and "Encyclopedia of Mummies." He has taught Philosophy and Egyptology at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University for 33 years.

Posted 12/10/2004

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