MUMMIES CURRENTLY ON TOUR IN US
'A DAY IN POMPEII' IS BACK!                MUMMIES OF THE WORLD
 
 
EGYPTIAN MUMMIES OTZI THE ICEMAN POMPEII PLASTER CASTS BOG BODIES HUMAN AND ANIMAL MUMMIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
MUMMYMAKING SCHOOL PROJECTS MUMMY MUSEUMS MUMMY SCIENCE MUMMY DUMMIES SEARCH FOR MUMMIES @ MUMMY TOMBS
SCHEDULE A SCHOOL VISIT WITH JAMES M DEEM MUMMY QUIZ SHOP FOR MUMMY BOOKS, DVDS, TOYS, GAMES, COSTUMES AND MORE
 

Bestselling Books at the Mummy Tombs

 
 
 
 
 

BOOKS ABOUT STRANGE MUMMIES

 Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

by Mary Roach

 

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach is a New Age book of the dead, but only partly a mummy book. In this quirky, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable book, Roach digs into the history of human remains (with great relish!) and reports her findings. Not only does she provide the facts about the use and abuse of human remains, Roach does it with grace and wit as well. It is, as Roach writes in the Introduction, "a book about notable achievements made while dead...about the sometimes odd, often shocking, always compelling things cadavers have done." Her work as a Salon.com writer shows clearly throughout. 

Here's what the book covers, chapter by chapter:

  1. A head is a terrible thing to waste. The use of human cadaver heads in a facial anatomy and face-life refresher course. The second paragraph begins: "The heads have been put in roasting pans...for the same reason that chickens are put in roasting pans: to catch the drippings." An instructive opening chapter, but not for the squeamish! 

  2. Crimes of Anatomy. A visit to a gross anatomy lab and a historical review of human dissection for anatomical study. The history begins with Ptolemy I who sanctioned the dissection of executed criminals and Herophilus, who not only dissected dead criminals but apparently vivisected 600 live prisoners. The history of dissection reaches its nadir in 18th and 19th Century Britain. In 1752, Britain authorized the dissection of executed criminals rather than gibbeting (that is, tarring the criminal's corpse and displaying it in a gibbet, or iron cage). When the supply of executed criminals couldn't keep up with the demand of anatomy labs, criminal alternatives appeared (i.e., digging up the freshly dead or murdering for anatomical profit--as was the case of Scotland's notorious murdered Burke and Hare).

  3. Life After Death. A look at human decay and the funeral industry's attempts to arrest it. This chapter includes a reeking visit to the University of Tennessee's Anthropological Research Facility (which studies the stages of decay in human corpses) and th San Francisco College of Mortuary Science (which trains students to embalm). The chapter also includes a survey of the life and work of Thomas Holmes, known as the Father of Embalming (who reportedly chose not to be embalmed himself).

  4. Dead Man Driving. A visit to a human crash test dummy lab in which adult cadavers are employed to study auto safety. Engrossing and gross.

  5. Beyond the Black Box. A discussion of airplane disasters and the stories that the bodies of crash victims tell. This is a CSI-type chapter which truly gives the finer details of crash pathology. If you've always wondered what happens to the human brain trapped in a burning airplane, this is the chapter you will want to read.

  6. The Cadaver Who Joined the Army. The use of cadavers in studying the effects of bullets on human anatomy. Yes, there have been such studies--since about 1800. Included in this chapter is information about why human cadavers are not used in bomb research (though they have been used recently to test footwear designed to protect personnel involved in clearing land mines).

  7. Holy Cadaver. Crucifixion experiments in which corpses were nailed to crosses to prove the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin (Dr. Barbet conducted this experiment in 1931). 

  8. How to Know If You're Dead. A look at a "beating-heart cadaver"--that is, a person who has been declared brain dead, on the way to having organs removed for transplantation. The most fascinating part of this chapter is a review of the attempts people have made to made certain that the dead are truly dead (and not about to be buried alive).

  9. Just a Head. Decapitation, reanimation, and the human head transplant. Many have tried including the Freshman Jean Baptiste Vincent Laborde in 1884 who used the heads of guillotined prisoners. Americans (Guthrie in 1908 and White in the 1960s) also tried, though they worked with dogs and monkeys. 

  10. Eat Me. The mummy and cannibalism chapter. A cornucopia of information beginning with mellification (human remains steeped in honey and used as topical mummy medicine). Other recipes for human mummy elixirs are given as well (Fecal Phosphorous and Poor Sinner's Fat anyone?). Of course, the apparent need to create fake mummies to fill the demand is covered. Another section describes the use of blood (taken from corpses) and transfused to humans (with success by, among other, Dr. Kevorkian).

  11. Out of the Fire, Into the Compost Bin. Tissue digestion and human compost. This chapter discusses the latest trends (or at least ideas) for the disposal of dead humans (burial is expensive and wastes land and since cremation is uneconomical in its use of fuel). One way is a "water reduction machine"--which is more like a tissue digestion machine. It stirs the body with water and lye and reduces it to a pile of decollagenated bones (that easily crumble). An alternative is the human composter, now in the works in Sweden, which breaks the corpse into bits and composts it for use as garden fertilizer. 

  12. Remains of the Author. Roach concludes with musing about her own end.

All in all, the book is informative and entertaining and provides the type of information that many people spend a lifetime avoiding. 304 pages. Highly recommended! 

 

 
Order 
Stiff 
from
Amazon.com
 
Hardcover

 

Paperback

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

About the Mummy Tombs     |   Mummy Definition     Ask a Question       Bestsellers at the Mummy Tombs


All material on this website is intended primarily for children, educators, and parents.  
© 1988-2012 James M. Deem 
If you would like to contact James M. Deem, you may reach him here.

Be sure to visit The World of James M. Deem for stories, activities and information about the books of James M. Deem.