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Man mummified for TV documentary

Using the techniques that preserved king Tutankhamun's body after his death in 1,323 BC, scientists have embalmed the 61-year-old Alan Billis of Torquay town in Devon county, following his death from lung cancer.

india Updated: Oct 19, 2011 13:32 IST

A man in Britain has become first individual to be mummified in the style of ancient Egyptians for at least 3,000 years.

Using the techniques that preserved king Tutankhamun's body after his death in 1,323 BC, scientists have embalmed the 61-year-old Alan Billis of Torquay town in Devon county, following his death from lung cancer, the Daily Mail reported.

Billis, who worked as taxi driver, loved watching documentaries, agreed to have his body preserved after seeing an advertisement from a television company looking to film the process.

Billis' wife Janet, 68, said: "He just said: 'I've just phoned someone up about being mummified.' I said: 'You've what.' I thought here we go again. It's just the sort of thing you would expect him to do."

But Janet and the couple's three grown-up children approved his decision and the resulting programme -- Mummifying Alan: Egypt's Last Secret -- is to be screened on Channel 4 Monday.

Billis, who has been dubbed Torquay's Tutankhamun, explained his unusual decision in the documentary, saying: "People have been leaving their bodies to science for years, and if people don't volunteer for anything nothing gets found out."

Over a period of several months following his death in January, Billis' internal organs were removed and kept in jars, with the exception of his brain and heart.

His skin was covered in a mixture of oils and resins and bathed in a solution of Natron, a salt found in dried-up river beds in Egypt.

After a month in a glass tank at the Medico-Legal Centre in Sheffield, which houses the city's mortuary, his body was taken out, placed in a drying chamber and wrapped in linen.

Stephen Buckley of the University of York, who helped research Egyptian mummification techniques before the programme, said Billis' body could now last several millennia.