Eternal Remains: World Mummification and the Beliefs that make it Necessary provides an overview of mummification, but it concentrates on the reasons behind the act. It investigates the justification for preserving dead bodies, and in so doing, probes the true nature of both life and death.
Many think of these as two distinct concepts, like day and night, but they are not distinct. Day fades into night, and night then returns to day. There are realms in which night and day merge, such as dusk and dawn. Perhaps the relationship between life and death is similar.
After explaining the natural processes of decay and how they are halted, various mummies in different parts of the world are introduced. In the Americas, these include snow- and ice-preserved bodies in Montana and Alaska, and some controversial finds in other states. The Guanajuato mummies in Mexico and the strangely-preserved bodies in San Bernardo, Columbia are also introduced, alongside new translations of modern reactions to such bodies. The mummification techniques of cultures in Central and South America are also delineated, including Incan sacrificial ceremonies and the preservation of Incan kings. Unusual preservations in South America include the Chancay practice of turning the deceased into drums, which were played during special ceremonies, and the J?varo method of shrinking heads.
In addition, Eternal Remains introduces to the English-speaking world the recently discovered world's smallest mummy, Ichiknuna. Chapters about European mummies cover the so-called Frankenstein mummies of Cladh Hallan and fantastically preserved bog bodies, which provide evidence of ancient murders and superstitious customs. The mummies in Ferentillo, a small town north of Rome in the region of Umbria, were strangely preserved by the soil's chemical composition.
Eternal Remains contains many pictures of these mummies, which have not been previously published. It also provides new information about what happened to King Tutankhamen's body after it had been embalmed and placed into a sarcophagus, and it explains the amazing discovery of cocaine, nicotine, and hashish in nine different 7,000-year-old Egyptian mummies.
Since mainstream historical understanding holds that these substances only existed in the Americas at the time, the discovery is forcing some scholars to consider the possibility of cross-oceanic trade, which would force a historical rewrite. Other controversial finds are likewise presented in this text, including the discovery of advanced, ancient Caucasian bodies in China.
Dr. Ken Jeremiah has written extensively about history, religion, and critical thinking. His previous books include Remnants of a Distant Past, Christian Mummification, Living Buddhas, Aikido Ground Fighting, and If the Samurai Played Golf...Zen Strategies for a Winning Game. He teaches world language and comparative religion courses, and currently resides in Narragansett, RI.