There are many techniques for preparing the dead for burial -- the traditional casket burial, cremation, the relatively new liquefaction -- but one man decided on an old-fashioned technique. So old-fashioned it hasn't been used for at least 3,000 years: mummification.
According to Sky News, the terminally ill man donated his body to scientists who had been researching the technique before he died. The process is being filmed into a documentary:
The 61-year-old had the backing of his wife Jan, who said: "I'm the only woman in the country who's got a mummy for a husband."
The process of mummification has been filmed for a television documentary where Dr Stephen Buckley, a chemist and research fellow from York University, uses the same techniques that ancient Egyptians performed on Tutankhamun.
"I was reading the paper and there was a piece that said, 'Volunteer wanted with a terminal illness to donate their body to be mummified,'" he told the Channel 4 documentary team.
"People have been leaving their bodies to science for years and, if people don't volunteer for anything, nothing gets found out."
Mr Billis, who dubbed himself Tutan-Alan, continued: "Experimenting is all about trying different processes to make things work. If it doesn't work it's not the end of the world, is it?
"Don't make any difference to me, I'm not going to feel it. It's still bloody interesting."
According to the Daily Mail, the documentary -- Mummifying Alan: Egypt’s Last Secret -- will air Monday, Oct. 24, in the United Kingdom. The Daily Mail shares details on Billis's mummification process:
Over a period of several months following his death in January, Mr Billis’s 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.
Dr Stephen Buckley of the University of York, who helped research Egyptian mummification techniques before the programme, said Mr Billis’s body could now last several millennia.
Daily Mail states that mummified Billis will stay in Sheffield, England, his hometown, till the end of the year. From there, scientists will begin studying decomposition of a mummified body.
[H/T New Scientist]