The First Mummy In 3,000 Years

Alan Billis; image: AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki
Image: AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki

The body of Alan Billis, who died of cancer recently will be the first one in the modern world to be mummified like the ancient Egyptians were.

While he was terminally ill with lung cancer, Billis—a taxi driver in the UK—signed up for the procedure.

Dr. Stephen Buckley is a scientist who has been working for nearly 20 years to figure out how to mummify bodies in the same way Egyptian bodies like Tutankhamun’s were preserved.

His process was filmed for a television documentary on Britain’s Channel Four TV station.

Billis answered an ad in his local newspaper that asked for someone with a terminal illness to volunteer to be mummified. A terminal illness is an illness that cannot be cured.

Billis, who had been a taxi driver in the UK, gave himself the nickname “Tuten-Alan.” He said his only regret is that he wouldn’t be around to see the TV show because, he said, he likes documentaries.

After Billis died, Dr. Buckley and another scientist began preserving his body. They removed most of his organs, and dried out his body by putting it in a salt bath for more than a month. Salt draws out moisture.

The body was wrapped in linen and left to dry for three more months.

Billis’s wife, who had supported her husband in his wish to be mummified, visited the body. She brought photographs and some drawings from his grandchildren.

Billis’s is the first body to be mummified this way in nearly 3,000 years.

The body will likely be used for further study into mummification.

This article is based on an article that was published on Yahoo!News.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Why do you think Billis chose to have his body mummified?

Reading Prompt: Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts
The last sentence of the article states, “The body will likely be used for further study into mummification.”  What kind of studies do you think could come out of this experiment?  Why would this information be/not be useful? Do you think this is a worthwhile experiment?

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas form the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Grammar Feature: Abbreviation
An abbreviation is a short form of a word.  Two abbreviations in the article are TV (television) and ad (advertisement).
Write the abbreviation for each of the following words:
1. cellular telephone  ________________
2. United States of America  ___________________
3. unidentified flying object  _____________________
4. Christmas  ________________________
5. doctor  _____________________