Science » Technologies and discoveries

Mummy is coming back

Many people know famous movie “Mummy” by Steven Sommers about the adventures of the treasure-hunters in Sahara desert in 1925.
They accidentally let forces of evil out of the ancient tomb of the executed Egyptian priest. Sentenced to eternal existence as “living dead”, the priest was brought to life again and started conducting revenge.
 
Certainly, the events of the movie are not real. Speaking of Egyptian mummies, their rising from the dead is hardly possible. To preserve the dead body its brain and inner organs (except for heart) were eliminated. The body was put in salty solution. After the ritual 70-day term expiration the corpse was taken out of the solution and fragrant synthetic resin was poured into it then the body was wrapped into linen. Or the space inside the breast, abdomen and skull was filled with sawdust. Fragrant substances and preservatives were also poured into inner organs which were put into the sarcophagus as well.

It is clear that to bring the mummy filled with saw-dust back to life is not an easy thing. It probably may become alive only after being cloned. However, if the mummification was conducted in non-traditional way, the chances for being revived increase greatly. In this case mummification can be considered as the way of extending life period to infinity. There are facts proving this.

For example, stonemason Samuel Goodwin and his assistants sawed up 1.5-meter monolith and discovered cavity having size of two fists. There was a toad inside it, after being taken into fresh our it was able to live 30 minutes. In coal depots Lillishell (Paddington) an alive squirrel was discovered after a big piece of coal was broken into pieces. In Chilliom castle a squirrel was discovered inside the marble plate of the fire-place.  

Some scientists started testing these phenomena. French Segin immured 20 toads inside plastering blocks and found four of them alive 12 years later. In 1825 American Frank placed 12 toads inside the blocks of sandstone and limestone. A year later he found the toads inside the sandstone to be dead and the toads inside the limestone were alive and even put on weight… 

Meanwhile, one should not draw a comparison between toads and people. However, there have been some amazing examples as well. Doctor of Biology Lisevitch wrote in Sputnik magazine in 1989 about Dau Temple of Dzen Sect in Vietnam,

“In front of me senior priest Vu Kkhak Min born over 300 years ago, is sitting! He is wearing a yellow monk robe and leaning forward. They said he achieved the peak of career at the court of one of the last Vietnamese royal dynasties – Lee dynasty. However, he preferred to withdraw from society into this monastery.

By the end of his days Min came into the tiny brick chapel of the monastery and started keeping the fast and praying. He allowed his disciples to enter the chapel only after the sounds of his praying drum stop…

It is known since ancient time, that a person abstaining from food will cause damage to his/her organism after 40 days of hunger. The senior priest lived for 100 days without food. After he felt he became extremely weak he told the monks who gathered around him, “It is time for me to leave this world. When my soul leaves the body, wait for one month. If you feel the smell of decay – bury me according to the rituals. If there is no decay, leave me here so that I could always pray to Budda”.

Three centuries passed after the senior priest death. In Russia royal dynasty of the Romanovs came to power and was overthrown, in Vietnam new dynasty of Nguens came to power, then the French came, then – the Japanese, and anticolonial war broke out… Meanwhile, the senior priest continued sitting in his niche and time seemed not to leave any traces on him. He has not  risen from the dead so far, but the state of his body demonstrates that such a possibility is possible.

One more example – the description of the alive person mummification custom in one of Buddhist schools in Japan. 

In IX century Kukai monk founded esoteric Singon school which was supposed to possess secret knowledge for a small number of selected people. Among the variety of his ideas the school founder had the idea of “Sokusin Dzyobutsu” – “one’s becoming Buddha in his own body”. Implementing this idea, passing into the state of nirvana with preserving the body from decomposing requested complicated preparation.

The fanatic making up his mind to accomplish this procedure had long period of psychological preparation, praying and meditation and then started the final stage of his life. This final stage lasted minimum 1000 days. The prerequisites for this stage were immobility, estrangement, meditation and special way of breathing. This person was on a special diet reducing the amount of food and eliminating all its nourishing components as starch.

The organism of the fanatic passed to endogenetic nutrition by consuming its own tissue. Therefore after the person died there almost was no tissue left to become rotten. The dead body was placed into dry environment to enhance drying out its soft tissue. The corpse underwent no other procedures. 

Not all fanatics were able to turn into a non-decomposing mummy. Many of them died long before the assigned 1000-day term, the body started decomposing and had to be cremated. According to the chronicle, Kukai was able to pass the entire procedure from the beginning to the end and mysteriously disappeared. No mummy of him was found.

The practice of mummification of an alive person was common for the adherents of the mysterious Syugendo (secluding oneself in mountains) doctrine. Mummies were placed in temples and were worshipped as Buddha’s incarnation. The practice of self-mummification was common in Dava province (currently – Yamagata prefecture). Several mummies of such ascetics are still the objects of worshipping in Dainitinibo temple complex on Mount Yudono. The authorities in Medieval Japan were suspicious about the activity of Sugendo sect and banned self-mummification as distortion of Buddhism. However, the self-mummification procedure continued to be practiced.

Sculptor of XVII century monk Anku was famous for carving more than 5000 wooden Buddhas. Feeling he was going to die, he asked to bury him inside the ground. Being buried alive, he was breathing through the pipe, praying and from time to time rang the bell. However, his attempt of self-mummification probably was not of success because later the monk was buried in Mirokudzi cemetery – it is proved by the tomb stone of him in this cemetery.

From time to time people who turned into mummies after experiencing diseases were deified. In South China in XVIII century a peasant girl suffered from wasting disease and finally died from exhaustion. Her dead body self-mummified and became the object of worshipping, the girl was included into the Pantheon of Chinese Buddhism and a temple was built in her honor.

The authorities of Midieval Japan who prosecuted mummification were right in their statement that this act contradicts the Buddhism postulates. Cult of relics contradicts Buddhism which demands destroying the body remains as the prey to the living creatures of the nature. Buddhism pursues no idea of person’s body or soul rising from the dead. Word “nirvana” is translated from Sanskrit as “fading” for a reason…

One of such people turning alive into mummies was researched in Vietnam. The research demonstrated that the body was not mummified as in Egypt. Its brain and inner organs were available. Such self-preservation is surprising, considering the high level of humidity in Vietnam (almost 100 percent) having monsoon rains all year round. There is no sign of mould on the mummy which was subjected to different winds. Moreover, the mummy continued becoming more dry even under such bad conditions!

Science can neither explain nor replicate such a phenomenon. Scientists try to reproduce the technology of mummification in Egypt. In 1994 Ronald Wade from Maryland University Medical Center and Bob Braier from Lond Island University conducted a successful test on mummification. This has been the first mummy in 2880 years embalmed by using the technique and medicine of Ancient Egypt.
 
Egyptians used Egyptian flax, soda, benzoin, myrrth, cedar oil, palm wine and natural resin for mummification of their dead. By conducting a variety of tests Wade and Braier found the appropriate combination of all these components.

After eliminating fluids and inner organs from the dead body, they covered the body with soda which Egyptians used for dehydrating organism. Palm wine was used for disinfecting. Then the dead body was left in the closed room for 35 days. After 35 days the body weighted 35 pounds less because of dehydrating. The test was conducted on the body of the man died of a heart attack at the age of 75 and sacrificing his body for scientific experiments.

For Wade this experiment became the critical point of his scientific activity. “I have special interest for this”, the scholar says. “When I was at 9th grade of school, I wanted to make the mummy of the cat. However, its owner did not agree, and I had to use the rat.”
“Frankly speaking, I don’t think that mummification can be utilized during funerals”, says Mike Rack, the director of funeral service in Baltimore. However, his colleague John Mcdonakh, director of funeral service from Lauell, Massachussets said that he may wish one day to be mummified.

Earlier the mummy was exhibited in the Museum of Human Being in San Diego from 1998 to 1999. Currently it is kept in the Medical School of Maryland University.

According to Expert-Center analytical newspaper, American company “Summun” from Salt Lake City follows Wade and Braier footsteps. This company offers the service of people’s mummification after their death at the price of $60,000. The cost of the bronze sarcophagus is included in this price. Upon customers requests, sarcophagus can be made of more expensive metals and have different unusual shapes.

According to the company managers’ opinion, preserving the image of people through the course of time will enhance their successors to maintain spiritual connection and decrease the gap between different generations. Egyptian pharaohs’ know-how raised big interest and is popular among wealthy Americans, and in a course of time the average American will be able to afford it as well.
 
Summun company has already had VIP clients. Owner of London Harrods stores, Egyptian millionaire Mohammad al-Faied is going to “immortalize” himself by mummification his dead body. He has already placed the order with the company. He wishes his mummy to be kept in a glass  sarcophagus in his villa near Paris.

 Sergey Klimov
 http://www.gazetangn.narod.ru/archive/ngn0324/mummy.html

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