Channel 4 has found itself in an ethical pickle after a terminally ill man volunteered to have himself mummified Egyptian style when he dies, for a documentary on the techniques and history of Egyptian mummification.
The man has already died, and had a keen interest in Egypt and mummification. When the show airs on October 24th, his family will explain the reason for his decision, though “Because it’s fucking awesome way to go” is pretty much reason enough for me.
The Egyptians were able to ‘mummify’ bodies for longer than any other civilisation, and are believed to have used resins found only in Burma – more than 4,000 miles from Egypt.
In recent years, chemical analysis of a shrine from the 18th Dynasty by German scientists found that the body had been preserved with cedar wood extract. Ancient Egyptians believed the preservation of the body after death was essential because it would be needed for the journey to the afterlife.
A Channel 4 spokesman said: ‘Using a secret and complex blend of ingredients and processes, embalmers managed to stop decomposition almost entirely.’ In 2010, Channel 4 stoked controversy after advertising for a terminally-ill volunteer to take part in the project.
The advert they published read: ‘We are currently keen to talk to someone who, faced with the knowledge of their own terminal illness and all that it entails, would nonetheless consider undergoing the process of an ancient Egyptian embalming.’ It was said payment would not be made, but that costs would be covered.
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