Aspects of immortality

Living forever is something I have a vested interest in, since I plan to be around for a good few centuries myself (nanotech, biotech, and speeding red buses permitting) so mummies – like the two royals in the Luxor Museum – have always fascinated me.

The audacity of those ancient kings – in a world where lasting to your fortieth year with some teeth left made you the luckiest mofo in town, the pharoahs dreamed of living forever and *actually did something about it*, preserving their bodies in the dry desert heat and gathering their belongings around their sarcophagi in prep for the next life. All for a single, rather selfish goal: that they’d live forever.

And of course, they succeeded.

Thanks to the skills of those ancient embalmers, the faces of people who last drew breath over 4000 years ago can still be recognised. Not as abstract assemblages of bones, but as who they were in life, facial expressions and features clearly visible. You can tell what kind of people they were, whether they smiled or frowned a lot, written into their brown-papery crinkles of dried flesh. You can even tell family resemblances: this dead king is unmistakeably a close relative of that one…

And now their faces are on the plates of a thousand textbooks and seen by millions, they are living again, after thousands of years buried under the sand. Alive in our imaginations, never to be forgotten.

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