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Museum's final resting place for modern mummy

Posted on 28/02/2012

The Gordon Museum has this month welcomed its newest specimen, the mummified body of Mr Alan Billis who died in 2011.

Mr Billis was the subject of a Channel Four documentary Mummifying Alan – Egypt’s Last Secret, which was aired in 2011. The programme followed the story of the terminally ill taxi driver who donated his body for use in a project which re-examined the mummification processes of the ancient Egyptians.

Dr Stephen Buckley, from the University of York, and archaeologist Dr Jo Fletcher were interested in how ancient Egyptians produced mummies and in particular those from the 18th Dynasty (c. 1550-1292 BC.) were created. Using modern equipment Buckley and Fletcher analysed the remains of the various waxes, oils and resins used in ancient Egyptians mummification procedures to determine the composition of the materials and with the use of modern imaging technology deducted how the mummification processes was actually performed.

Then using this procedure Pathologist Professor Peter Vanezis and Dr Stephen Buckley carried out the mummification process on Mr Billis’s body, at the Sheffield Medico-Legal Centre. Subsequent imaging has shown that the process to be completely successful and to have very similar characteristics of 18th Dynasty mummies.

The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) who approved the project, proposed to Dr Buckley that the Gordon Museum (licensed under HTA legislation) would be an ideal location for a permanent home for Mr Billis and with the agreement of the Gordon Museum Alan Billis’s mummy has become a new addition to the Museum’s collections.

Mr Billis’s mummy will continue to have an educative purpose for Bio-Archaeologists, Archaeological Chemists and Archaeologists generally. In addition, there will an ongoing scientific study and analysis of the mummy generally and periodically of tissue samples.

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