That’s a Wrap: British Man’s Body Mummified, King Tut-Style

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Patrick Landmann / Getty Images

Scientists wrap a 3,500-year-old mummy in Italy.

“We are all equal in the presence of death,” an ancient proverb reads. King or commoner, we all deserve the same treatment. It’s this egalitarian postmortem spirit that’s connecting a modern British taxi driver and a 3000-year-old Egyptian king.

Alan Billis, a former cabbie from southwest England, passed away in January from terminal lung cancer. And, as many recently deceased do, he donated his body to science – though this science happens to be many millennia old.

Billis, who died at 61, is one of just a few modern men to be mummified in the precise style of King Tutankhamen. (American professor Bob Brier first used Egyptian techniques to mummify a body in 1994.) Indeed, the science of mummification has only recently been reconstructed, with incredibly few bodies having been preserved in such a manner for more than 3000 years.

(PHOTOS: Mummies Around the World)

The BBC ran this story in early 2010 reporting that Channel 4 was looking for a donor to be mummified. Alan read a similar article and concluded that he’d be an ideal candidate. His wife Jan seemed oddly okay with his dying wish. “It’s just the sort of thing you would expect him to do,” she said. And so it was done. Upon Billis’ passing in January, Dr. Stephen Buckley, a chemist at Britain’s York University took the reigns. Buckley has spent his career studying and perfecting the technique that allowed for the preservation of King Tutankhamun after the Egyptian king’s death in 1323 BC.

No modern luxuries were afforded to Billis’ body during the process – in the lab, Buckley and his crew even recreated the hot, arid conditions of ancient Egypt to work. First, Billis’ organs were removed and replaced with small bags of linen to preserve his body’s form. The corpse was laid in a salt bath for more than a month, covered with oils, and wrapped with linen bandages to keep the body dry and well-preserved.

As natural as the drying process was its propensity for video. The amazing feat will be shown in a documentary airing on Channel 4 in the UK on Monday, Oct. 24. And if all goes to plan, Billis’ body will far outlast natural disasters, caustic environments and Dr. Buckley’s instructions. When future Earthlings discover the Billis’ mummified corpse, we bet they’ll be highly confused, too.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

LIST: The Most Amazing Stolen Body Parts

41 comments
DirkDiggler
DirkDiggler

Somebody needs to teach these fast food workers basic economics. You are not giving people filet mignon, you are selling them cardboard (ahem... McDonalds). On top of that, you are not providing much in the way of service. Now double the workers wages and lets see if it is still economical for the company to sell that food at the same price. Why would I pay restaurant prices for this cardboard?

You have the same shot that everyone else has, you can apply yourself and find a better job like the hordes of teenagers that are able to move past fast food every year. Why should it just be 'given to you'? I understand that the job is not rewarding, it often seems like its worth it. Now guess what... you have just encountered the same situation that the vast majority of people will encounter in their lives. Better yourself and move up. Its the American way. Don't expect people to hand it to you.

FionaTautou
FionaTautou

It's pretty simple. The urban liberals want higher minimum wage, but they simply are not willing or able to pay significantly higher prices for food and services. You can't have this both ways, either you support higher wages and are willing to pay more, or you are not willing to pay more.

Don't forget, these minimum wage people also get food stamps, free health care, subsidized housing, subsidized heat/ac and an Obamaphone and the food handed out at school for their kids and from food banks. That is why they stay poor. Again... Why work?
Expenses for me:
- 33% of income to Uncle Sam
- $1500/month rent (next to low income housing, might I add)
- $400/month for health insurance (from BC/BS)
- $25/month for auto insurance (at Insurance Panda)
- $150/month for gas
- $300/month for food
Expenses for a minimum wage employee on government aid:
- drugs and alcohol
- McDonald's and KFC
- expensive clothes and jewelry
Who is better off?

AZ_Resident
AZ_Resident

Minimal skills, minimal education, yet, they demand maximum pay.


Something to be said for not having kids you can't afford, for staying in school, for working to better yourself...you know, those conservative values.

BabuG.Ranganathan
BabuG.Ranganathan

CAPITALISM SHOULD BE ON SOCIETY’S TERMS

Babu G. Ranganathan

Many in society have been taught to believe that the public has no right to tell corporations what to do with their money any more than a private citizen has the right to tell his neighbor what to do with the money he earns from a business or store. This is not a fair analogy.

True enough that a private citizen doesn't have the right to tell his neighbor what to do with his money but the public does have the right to tell corporations what to do with their money. Why? Because corporations couldn't exist without very special and unique government help. Corporations are special legal entities that have unique rights, privileges, and protections given by government that ordinary citizens and business owners do not have. And, since the government in a democracy like ours comes from the people (the majority in society) the people have the right to determine how corporations act and how they spend their money. The majority in a democracy own the franchise of government! 

Therefore, the public has a right to demand something from corporations in exchange for giving corporations the right to exist. Would I not have the right, even as a private citizen, to demand something from a business built on my property? The same logic applies to the relationship between the public (society) and corporations. Corporations cannot hide behind the specious argument of rugged individualism!

Many in our society have been brainwashed to believe that an absolutely free market place with no government controls or regulations would automatically fix our nation's problems. Have we forgotten already that the Great Depression of the early 1930's was the direct result of a free market economy with no government control or regulation?

Rugged individualism teaches that the individual has the right to benefit from social and economic interactions with society, but that society has no right to demand any benefit from the individual.

However, if it is true that a person has a moral right to be a rugged individualist, looking out only for himself, then it also follows that individuals (plural), by mutual consent and agreement, have a moral right to look out for themselves. Such a moral right of individuals (plural) is the basis for majority rule and unions in our society.

Certainly, if an individual is benefiting from commerce with the many individuals of society, then the many individuals of society have a right, by mutual agreement among themselves, to demand certain benefits from the individual, benefits such as decent wages, clean air, clean water, safe working conditions, safe products, etc.

No one has absolute individual rights in society. Those who want absolute individual rights must live outside of society. Those who want to be part of society with the benefits of government and law must be willing to grant what the majority want, even if it's at their own expense.

Yes, minorities have rights, but the majority has more rights.

Absolute individualism is absolutely unfair. The majority has the right to tax an individual and collect money to build a park even if that individual doesn’t want the park and will never use the park. The majority has a right to tax an individual and use the money to provide welfare or help those who genuinely can’t help themselves in society.
 
Self- proclaimed rugged individualists in society want all the benefits of what the majority has to provide - government, law, security, and protection - but they do not want to give up anything to the majority in exchange for these benefits. These so-called rugged individualists are the real leeches and parasites of society.

The fact is there are no real rugged individualists in society!  

If capitalism and social consciousness cannot coexist then how is it that modern industrialized nations such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and others can have a high degree of social consciousness and still be capitalistic with a thriving free enterprise.

The rich are not paying their fair share of the taxes. Even billionaire Warren Buffet has said that his office secretary pays more in taxes in proportion to her income than he does.

In fact, one of President Obama's ideas for reviving our economy is by the federal government spending money to repair the infrastructure in our country (roads, bridges, highways, etc.). Much of this money would come from taxing the wealthy and corporations and making them pay their fair share taxes.

People can still become wealthy in a socialist society but not at the detrimental expense of others in society.

Many of the basic rights, especially regarding safety in the work place, that we take for granted were not graciously given to society by the rich but won by the blood of bludgeoned workers and strikers in the early twentieth century.

The Bible doesn't say that money is the root of all evil, but that "the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil." That love of money must be constrained in society or the worst aspects of capitalism will make a living hell for millions. Thank God, of course, that there are some capitalists who don't put money first or love money. God bless them!

The Christian Scriptures have much to say against the rich and wealthy who obtain and maintain their wealth through the detriment of the rest of society (James 2: 6, 7; 5: 1-6).

Read the author's Internet article:

THE FAR LEFT AND RIGHTS OF THINGS

The author, Babu G. Ranganathan, has his bachelor’s degree with concentrations in theology and biology and has been recognized for his writings on religion and science in the 24th edition of Marquis “Who’s Who in The East.”

whiteathame
whiteathame

Quick, picket the nearest McDonald's and scream your support for a $15 per hour minimum wage!  Then, picket the McDonald's for raising the prices on their dollar menu by 79 percent.

warhaft91
warhaft91

“You see the minimum wage being raised everywhere across the country.”

Which shows how unnecessary minimum wage legislation actually is....

TomFerretti
TomFerretti

I think they are sealing their fate. I guess they don't realize that 80% of those jobs can be replaced by ordering kiosks. Fast food joints will only need janitors and cooks.  They are digging their own graves. And if they were really looking to improve their lives, they would go find a better job instead of demanding more money for giving people attitude and asking if they want fries with that. Just like every other person in the world. Typical american attitude

Emma1985
Emma1985

I don't make 15 dollars an hour, and I'm a college graduate. Why should a group that's primarily (at least where I live) high school dropouts demand special treatment?

evangelinesp
evangelinesp

I'm trying to be mean but if the wages raised to 15 dollars, I might as well work in a fast food chain instead of going to universities and get a job that pays slightly higher. #justsaying

tom.litton
tom.litton

@FionaTautou2 points from the CBO report:


1.  The income of those making up to 6 times the poverty rate (~100k per year, if i recall correctly) will rise, after accounting for the increase in prices.


2.  It lifts 900k people out of poverty.  That's 900k people that will be receiving less aid (
food stamps, free health care, subsidized housing, subsidized heat/ac and an Obamaphone and the food handed out at school for their kids and from food banks.).  I'm sure it will decrease for more then 900k since most programs are means tested. 


If you are better off working for min wage, then why aren't you?  Why would anyone?  Why not eliminate min wage and just let everyone go on welfare? 

BobJan
BobJan

Same reason financial corporations and banks can take huge risks.....They will get govt help just like the poor only it costs Trillions more.

BobJan
BobJan

It's a Reagan phone. That project of helping with phone service started under Reagan and had continued. Go back to school, start with the fourth grade because that appears to be your mental capacity right now with all your rants.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@AZ_Resident Why do you care?  How does it effect you (other then causes you to pay more in taxes to support those working at min wage jobs)?


Are you arguing for no min wage?  That would seem to be the logical conclusion to what you said.  If so, how do you pay for the relatively large increase in welfare?

BobJan
BobJan

@AZ_Resident So you agree with the premise that Lloyd Blankfein who is head of Goldman Sachs should be paid 32 MILLION/yr and all the others that work there should get those outrageous bonuses because the government regulations allow them to charge any fees they want and also to buy and sell CD Swaps which brought the world to its financial knees in 2008 and also to have taxpayer bailouts without any prosecution so then you would call that maximum skills with maximum education. Funny as it seems but Henry Ford was a machinist who became the richest man in America at one time with his own "machinist education" and without government bailouts. Staying in school. Only the rich can go to college without mortgaging their life away. In 1979 a min wage worker put in 8 hours to afford one credit hour at Michigan State University. Today, 2014 that min wage worker must work 62 hours for that one credit hour. Get your head out of the sand and into the real world. Maybe you should just stop posting your ridiculous rantings.

DirkDiggler
DirkDiggler

Wow! Someone gave you a degree for this line of thinking? This is rubbish, you have a tenuous grasp on reality, apparently filtered through some terrible textbook. I wrote and deleted maybe 7 responses where I could not shrink my response enough to still post and be considered a sane person. You are wrong on all accounts. Wherever I could find a shred of reason, it was then invalidated in the next 3-4 sentences. Please do not poison the minds of even the random visitor.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@whiteathame  

It doesn't work that way. But it seems that you don't mind paying more in taxes, locally and at a state and federal level to subsidize these companies when they socialize the cost on you. Why would you want to do that?

tom.litton
tom.litton

@TomFerretti If they could replace them with kiosks right now they already wood.  If they could find better jobs then they would have already left these jobs. 


It might increase the incentive to accelerate R&D into automation, that would only speed up a process that is already in motion.  It's a process that won't have a happy ending for 70% of us though (in my opinion).

KevinReetz
KevinReetz

@TomFerretti  One of our local Jack in the Box had a kiosk for ordering your food....pretty cool.  Placed your order based on your choices and paid there too.  Didn't need to interact with a cashier/order taker.  Should be the way of the future!!

MrObvious
MrObvious

@TomFerretti  

This is of course great if you want to continue paying to put food on their tables. Fast food companies will continue thanking you for allowing them to socialize their cost on us regular tax payers. That's the issue. Most wages are completely out of whack with even inflation. These wages have now been stagnant for a long time and the longer it remains that way the more you have to pay in order for people to be able to pay their bills and put food on their tables.

The increase in Food stamp isn't because there are more people just feeling too lazy to get a good job (there aren't any on someone still need to do these jobs) it's because we have people such as yourself that argue for this stagnation.

But it's not only here; it's reaching up through all different paygrades. And the result is less money for people to consume with and for someone else to have to step in unless you want a homeless epidemic and people starving in poor houses. (as it was historically).

I just don't understand why people keep arguing for paying twice; first for the service they buy and then through taxes for the labor.

And here's a last hint for you; not everything that a company sells is wages - a increase in wages won't result in you paying 2-3 bucks more for whatever you buy. Wages is just part of the total cost. The only argument that you're making is that you want companies to continue socialize the cost on you. Nothing else.

If would be of course entirely different if wages had been keeping up with inflation; then a job like this would be paying about 15 bucks. Like it does in countries that don't let companies socialize cost. And they seem to be doing just fine.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@Emma1985 Because they can.  Because everyone has a right to fight to improve their lives.  Because they felt like it.  Because they wanted the day off.  

Why do you care why they do what they do?  You should only care about how it effects you and the society you live in.  

Channah
Channah

@Emma1985 I said this above-----most do not have a high school education.

BobJan
BobJan

Your first class in college should have explained to you that a college degree doesn't guarantee anything other than a piece of paper saying you've completed something. I was a " skilled tradesman" for 43 years and there weren't very many 4 year degreed individuals who made more per year.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@evangelinesp This is a point that a lot of people seem to miss.  To get there you only need to go one step further.  

What if all those going to school to be nurses decide to skip college and just work at McDonalds?  How would the hospitals respond if they couldn't find any nurses to hire?

BobJan
BobJan

We'll if you do that then you won't end up with loans you'll never be able to pay off. (sarcasm)

Channah
Channah

@cherrypoppingdaddy069 --I get a fast food attack about 3 times a year-do not eat at those places otherwise.  They are not good for you.

DirkDiggler
DirkDiggler

@BobJan @AZ_Resident Wow, way to veer way of course... WTF does the head of Goldman Sachs have to do with a low-skilled/motivated worker at McDonalds?

Channah
Channah

@BobJan @AZ_Resident When AZ said to stay in school, I took he meant high school-------not college.  So many fast food workers do not have a high school education.

BruceButler
BruceButler

@BobJan @AZ_Resident do you really believe any CEO for any corporation is going to give up his/her pay so employees with no skillset and minimal education can be paid more? and if wages are raised we (the public) will see that cost passed right on to us. get ready for $17 dollar value meals. want to know why college costs so much? compare the rate of colleges getting government subsidies to the rate of cost increase. wouldn't you charge more for a service if you knew the government was footing the bill?

BobJan
BobJan

And hopefully one day you'll be replaced too.

BobJan
BobJan

In 1979 a min wage worker put in 8 hours to afford one credit hour at Michigan State University. In 2014 a min wage worker must work 62 hours to pay for the same credit hour. When you try to explain to society the factual reasoning behind raising the min wage you will find that most have no reasoning skills.

BobJan
BobJan

We'll then, let corporations that need raw materials from all over the world hire their own armies to patrol the seas and air space instead of the taxpayer funded US military. Raising wages is such a small percent of production today due to technology. Price of a product also includes buildings, insurance, utilities, and so on. When someone says that raising the min wage by 80% means the product will also go up 80% you know their head isn't screwed on right. And you also answered the $64,000 question of why companies can get by with paying a slave wage.....Because they know the govt will pick up the difference. Voters are pretty stupid as to think any party R or D is looking out for them.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@BruceButler @BobJan@AZ_Resident The economic studies i've seen says the price raise isn't that bad.  One study said for a 10% raise in min wage would be a 4% raise in fast food prices and a 0.4% raise over all.

The CBO study said that everyone making less then 6 times the poverty rate would see their real income (their income after taking into account price raises) would rise on average.

To be fair, it also said the real income of those making more then 6 times the poverty rate would see their real income decline. 

BobJan
BobJan

They pay min wage and the rest of the wage they should be paying but won't to live in a civilized society is passed on to the taxpayer.

BobJan
BobJan

Woo-hoo! You've taken economics. To live in the USA and be able to sustain life without living under a bridge or eating out of dumpsters the minimum wage set either by the Fed or State is nowhere near what it takes. A civilized society must take on the responsibility of helping. But helping in a responsible way. College should be at minimal cost which in turn benefits everyone. Signals? Just plain greed because they can. They feel they're entitled to it because no one said they can't.

Andre1973
Andre1973

@BobJan riddle me this, why has the price of college tuition gone up so fast yet min wage has not? I have taken economics and know the answer. Now tell me what signals have been sent that cause the raising of tuition so fast?

MrObvious
MrObvious

@BobJan  

I hear you, people that make money always assume that year by year increase of 3% or more is natural, but that somehow never extend to people living bare bones working long hours.

Personally I want companies to pay the full cost of the labor since I don't want to pay for it other then the products I might consume. Maybe that's just me but that is how capitalism should work. 

DirkDiggler
DirkDiggler

@BobJan Minimum wage was never designed to accommodate the people who are supporting five person families. Ideally it should be what those just entering the workforce for the first time - usually still living with their parents - should expect. If you want more, you need to grow as an individual  in order to be able to offer more for the society that you are apart of. You get in relation to what you give. You should be able to carry your own weight.

Now the grey area is in how much the government itself should subsidize your education and how hard it is for those of little means to move forward. Your opinion on this subject will help you determine where you lie on the political spectrum (I hate how much people subscribe to one way or another on this one). Welcome to America!