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WILL `MR. MUMMY’ HELP UNLOCK MYSTERIES?

SHARE WILL `MR. MUMMY’ HELP UNLOCK MYSTERIES?

He's known affectionately to researchers as Mr. Mummy or E.M. Balm.

Buried under 800 pounds of salt in a basement laboratory, the corpse of the 76-year-old man who donated his body to science is being transformed into a modern mummy using the techniques of ancient Egypt. The researchers consulted hieroglyphic texts and even their tools are reproductions of 3,000-year-old instruments."What this project is trying to do is address some of the mysteries of ancient Egypt," said Ron Wade, director of the Maryland State Anatomy Board, which provided the corpse.

The body sits in an old laboratory in Baltimore on a wide wooden embalming table just like those used millenniums ago. Surrounding it are jars storing the man's liver, intestines and stomach.

The body is packed in natron, a combination of salt and a natural baking soda, to dry it out. All that is visible are the feet, which are wrapped in blue surgical booties. The ankles have begun to turn brown, an indication that the body is drying out.

On June 25, after 45 days, the body will be cleaned and wrapped head to foot in linen strips that have been smeared with a resin the ancient Egyptians used in place of glue.