Mummifying Alan: Egypt’s Last Secret (1 x feature-length) – Dr Stephen Buckley’s two-decade-long quest to uncover the secrets of Egyptian mummification has seen him transform his own kitchen into an embalmer’s laboratory. Using modern technology, including a Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer, he has identified the materials Egyptian priests would have used – such as salt, beeswax, natural oils and resins. Dr Buckley has experimented in a shed using over 200 pigs’ legs, which are a close substitute for human tissue, to find the exact process used by ancient priests to preserve their pharaohs’ bodies for eternity. He even recreated the desert conditions of Egypt in this shed using a heater and de-humidifier. Having replicated the results in the lab, the chemist believes he has found the formula to mummify a body indefinitely. But the ultimate way to verify the theory was with a human volunteer.
Alan Billis, a taxi driver from Torquay in Devon who died in January 2011 at the age of 61, has become the first person for three millennia to be mummified like Tutankhamun, the pharaoh who died in 1323BC aged around eighteen and whose magnificent tomb was discovered in 1922. Diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, Alan read a news story about the Channel 4 mummification project and decided to donate his body to the experiment after his death. His decision has the full support of his family and he appears in the documentary alongside his wife, Jan.
More details about the programme can be found at: http://channel4.com/mummy
Channel: Channel 4
Producer: Blink Films
TX: 24th October, 2011
Source: Channel 4 Press Office