Dying is a social as well as physiological phenomenon. Each society characterizes and, consequently, treats death and dying in its own individual ways—ways that differ markedly. These particular patterns of death and dying engender modal cultural responses, and such institutionalized behavior has familiar, economical, educational, religious, and political implications. The Handbook of Death and Dying takes stock of the vast literature in the field.

Mummification and Mummies in Ancient Egypt
Mummification and mummies in ancient Egypt

Conflicting mortuary practices and attitudes toward the dead in modern Egypt mirror the problems inherent in constructing a picture of ancient Egyptian beliefs and practices. Scholars have noted survivals of pharaonic traditions in both tomb architecture and burial customs (D'Auria, Lacovara, and Roehrig 1988:25). Even in the absence of grave goods, grave robbery of a sort remains possible: In Naguib Mahfouz's (1966:252–58) novelMidaq Alley, two people exhume recent burials to extract the gold fillings from corpses' teeth. In cities and villages, cemeteries are ...

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