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Mummies and molecules



The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


This event is part of our series of lightning lectures at the Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition 2019. Perfect for getting a taste of science, why not catch one (or more) of these electrifying 15 minute talks?

Summer Science Exhibition: Dr Stephen Buckley uses chemistry to uncover the mysteries of mummification

There is arguably no symbol from ancient Egypt more recognisable than mummies.

To the ancient Egyptians the preservation of the body of the deceased was vital in order to provide a permanent home for a person's spirit or soul in the afterlife, giving them the immortality they sought. Yet how did the Egyptian embalmers defy nature and achieve such lifelike results through mummification? While the dead can't tell us themselves, science can reveal their secrets.

Dr Stephen Buckley explains how we can use chemistry to identify the techniques and materials employed in the embalmers' 'art', from its origins over 6000 years ago to its skilful height around the time of Tutankhamen. Discover how this analysis can bring the ancient Egyptians back to life by providing insight into their innovation, trade and politics.

Please note that this talk might include images of human remains.

Running times

This event will run at 12:00pm and 3:45pm and last approximately 15 minutes.

Talk - admittance for our talks is first-come, first-served. Please ensure you arrive early for talks as we can get busy at the weekends and you may need to queue to get into the building.

Attending the event

  • Free to attend
  • No registration required
  • Limited spaces, admittance based on venue capacity
  • Seats allocated on a first-come, first-served basis
  • Doors open 5 minutes before start of event
  • Suitable for ages 14+
  • Travel and accessibility information - contact us directly to arrange any specific accessibility requirements
  • Food and drink will be available for purchase at our onsite café

For all enquiries, please email

Related events

Mummies and molecules

Dr Stephen Buckley reveals the secrets of ancient Egyptian embalmers by exploring how chemistry can be used to uncover the science behind the art of embalming. Please note that this talk might include images of human remains.

The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK
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