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Maintaining Global Mummies; Plus, Reshaping Waistlines

Beyond the pharaohs, an amazing look at mummies and mummification around the world. Plus, we look at body-shaping techniques with the Wall Street Journal’s Melinda Beck.

Villagers from Koke village in Papua New Guinea carry Moimango, mummified half a century ago, up to his cliff-niche perch. His son (crouching) hopes to be mummified someday too. Mummies are a daily part of the living culture in Koke. Photo by Ulla Lohmann, courtesy National Geographic.

When think mummies, we think Egypt. But there’s more than one way to make a mummy – and more that one culture that’s done it. 

It’s with salt in Egypt, but high dry air in the Incan Andes, and smoke in Papua New Guinea. Never mind Lenin’s tomb in Moscow, Mao’s mausoleum in Beijing, and outliers all over. 

Bioanthropologist Ron Beckett has been called the “mummy whisperer.” He’s tracked human ways with death and the body all over the world. He’s with us. 

We look at the urge to preserve the remains – death rituals and mummies, worldwide.

-Tom Ashbrook


Ronald Beckett, bioanthropologist and mummy scientist. He’s professor emeritus of biomedical sciences and founder of the Bioanthropology Research Institute at Quinnipiac University. You can read the his recent article in National Geographic.

Closing segment:

Guest: Melinda Beck, health columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Read her recent article “How Fat-Blasting Devices Work” and see the video where she explains it all.


Check out National Geographic‘s September issue focusing on Egyptian mummies. You can see a slideshow of images.

Famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass writes the lead article. He begins as follows:

“Mummies capture our imaginations and our hearts. Full of secrets and magic, they were once people who lived and loved, just as we do today. I believe we should honor these ancient dead and let them rest in peace. There are some secrets of the pharaohs, however, that can be revealed only by studying their mummies.”

Read the full article. And look back at National Geographic‘s “mummy archives.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Philip

    No thank you. It’s interesting and all, but when I’m dead, I’ll have no use for this mortal coil and nobody else needs it either. Harvest my organs and burn the rest.

  • Michel M. Uumy

    I’m wonder what your guest thinks about Gunther von Hagens and his “plastination” of corpses. Is this modern, western mummifcation? If not, why not? What is similar and/or different about this modern ritual and those of other cultures?

  • mike

    Can you ask the guest if the mummies were royals, elder leaders, or did it not matter for Papua New Guinea. I will def check on the Nat Geo on this.


  • Irene Dwyer

    Are you going to have time to discuss the “bog body”
    mummies of Northern Europe?

  • Rod Daynes

    Salt Lake City may be at the same time one of the most beautiful and one of the most downright weird cities in America. Egyptian mummy factory indeed!

  • Dave Sweetman

    When Calories is greater than calories out and fat cells are removed where do the un needed calories go?

  • michael

    Now Onpoint sounds like the home shopping network.

  • http://challenginglachesis.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    I would really love to have the problem of having too much food to eat and enough time to spend eating all of it. If the money that went into making options for fat rich people to feel better about how gluttonous they are went into promoting local organic agriculture, we would have the childhood obesity and the unemployment problems solved, and have a much higher level of national security. But who can think of things like food security when you have so to spend so much time in the day eating crappy food to try to get enough energy to just make it through the day. If we all had equal access to healthy, delicious, fresh food, and the market wasn’t undercut by high-fructose corn syrup nutrition, how would the rich people stay better than us? And really, what’s more bourgie that elective surgery?

  • michelle carter

    Listening to your story on reshaping your waistline made me sad. This country has an enormous problem with body image. Girls (and boys) have been growing up with the warped belief that we all need to look a certain way. The belief that our bodies “should” have the a particular shape and curve or lack there of in most cases. These new body shaping techniques just reiterate those ideas. It makes me sad to think that we haven’t progessed beyond this way of thinking.

  • fredericc

    I’m wonder what your guest thinks about Gunther von Hagens and his “plastination” of corpses. Is this modern, western mummifcation? If not, why not? What is similar and/or different about this modern ritual and those of other cultures?

    Posted by Michel M. Uumy, on September 17th, 2010 at 11:14 AM


Apr 23, 2014
In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., shows a tablet displaying his company's technology, in New York. Aereo is one of several startups created to deliver traditional media over the Internet without licensing agreements. (AP)

The Supreme Court looks at Aereo, the little startup that could cut your cable cord and up-end TV as we’ve known it. We look at the battle. Plus: a state ban on affirmative action in college admissions is upheld. We’ll examine the implications.

Apr 23, 2014
Attendees of the 2013 Argentina International Coaching Federation meet for networking and coaching training. (ICF)

The booming business of life coaches. Everybody seems to have one these days. Therapists are feeling the pinch. We look at the life coach craze.

Apr 22, 2014
This undated handout photo, taken in 2001, provided by the Museum of the Rockies shows a bronze cast of the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton known as the Wankel T.rex, in front of the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont. (AP)

As a new Tyrannosaurus Rex arrives at the Smithsonian, we’ll look at its home – pre-historic Montana – and the age when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

Apr 22, 2014
Security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack in the town of Suwayrah, 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, April 21, 2014. Suicide bombings and other attacks across Iraq killed and wounded dozens on Monday, officials said, the latest in an uptick in violence as the country counts down to crucial parliament elections later this month. (AP)

We look at Iraq now, two years after Americans boots marched out. New elections next week, and the country on the verge of all-out civil war.

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