'You look at their beautifully manicured nails and you can't not think of them as people'
At home with the mummies' mummy
By Ros Wynne-Jones

Dr Rosalie David, keeper of Egyptology at the Manchester Museum, formally introduces one of her charges. "This is Asru," she says fondly, gesturing at the mummified body of an elderly woman. "She lived in Thebes in around 700BC but she's been living in Manchester since 1825." Next to Asru's coffin is a casting of her thin, toothless face showing what she might have looked like before she died, probably of bone cancer.

"She was a very poorly lady," says Dr David, whose twilight world of preserved relics and corpses is dedicated to the painstaking detective work that has brought Egyptians like Asru close to the eternal life they sought through mummification.

At one point on our tour of the exhibits there is a faint, flowery scent. "Every mummy smells different," Dr David explains, pausing by the Two Brothers - Khnum Nakht and Nekht Ankh. "They usually smell kind of spicy, like herbal infusions you might take for a cold," she offers. "Not unpleasant at all."

"How are the mummies?" a young man calls along the gallery. "We found another worm," says Dr David, eyes bright with discovery. The bilharzia worm, still endemic in Egypt, has been found in one of her ancient corpses, making the doctor and her students the first to lay eyes on it in thousands of years. Highly original in content, Dr David's graduate course has mummy unwrapping on the syllabus. You wonder what her 24 human and 34 animal mummies would make of the university in the first few weeks of term, as dazed first years wander through Victorian buildings under banners exhorting them: Enrol Now!

"The mummies are roughly half male and half female and six are children," says Dr David, brightly. "We have cats and crocodiles, too." Behind the scenes at the museum it is her task to unearth the secrets of the dead. Each new mummy unfolds as a detective story, as the Miss Marple of mummies uses the tools of modern medicine - autopsy, endoscopy, forensics - to establish the cause of death. And, as the science of genetics grows more precise, Dr David also gains crucial insights into the evolution of disease. "We've done a lot of work with detached heads," she says, cheerfully, as we pass a display of gold eye covers and tongue amulets, which the Egyptians believed would secure sight and taste in the next life for the deceased.

THE doctor was 29 when, in 1975, she performed the first mummy autopsy of modern times, in front of BBC cameras and an audience. But she was six when she knew that she wanted to spend her life unravelling the secrets of ancient Egypt. Born near Cardiff, she first saw a picture of three pyramids in a school book. "From that day I never really thought of being anything other than an Egyptologist." Dr David wrinkles her nose. "It's the same with most Egyptologists - something has usually triggered their interest at an early age." A calling? "It's probably just arrested development," Dr David snorts.

After studying Egyptology at University College London, Rosalie David came to Manchester to study a collection amassed by a mill owner in the 19th century and later given to the university. Working with Britain's largest gathering of Egyptian mummies outside the British Museum, she spends so much time among them that you wonder whether she feels any emotional connection with her charges.

"I always think of them as people," she says, firmly. "From the side of the coffin, you usually have the name of the person and what they did for a living so you think of them as an individual. You look at their beautifully manicured nails and you can't not think of them as a person."

Mummy 1770, the nameless 14-year-old girl that Dr David unwrapped like an ancient manuscript before the cameras in 1975, has since been rendered into many pieces which continue to be the basis for scientific study around the world. "It was so exciting," she says of the 14-day autopsy. "You didn't know what you would find. There hadn't been an unwrapping since 1908. We had been developing new techniques and we wanted to look at one mummy in totality, choosing 1770 because it was rather battered and had never been on display."

With each layer, as the bandages were carefully removed with tweezers, came information about the possible cause of death. But the pieces of the jigsaw were puzzling. Why had 1770's legs been amputated and replaced with wooden prosthetics? Traces of a male guinea worm provided a possible answer. "When the male worm dies, the female tries to get out of the body and will burrow out of the lower legs causing ulcerations," explains Dr David. "Our theory was that perhaps her legs had been amputated in a last ditch attempt to save her life."

The autopsy, described in her new book, Conversations With Mummies, was carried out like an archaeological dig. "We numbered the sections using a grid system, going through each horizontal layer of the mummy," she says. You imagine the bandages unwrap as in cartoons, in a long strip. Dr David peers over her glasses. "Well, yes, they do. They had used three different types of textile to wrap her - from the finest linen to domestic tea towel quality. There were 14 separate layers."

Like opening a space capsule from the past sealed for thousands of years, 1770's body held all sorts of clues about the past. "I kept thinking we were the first people to see her for 2,000 years," says Dr David. "The last people to see her were the ones wrapping her up." Between times, kingdoms had come and gone, empires crumbled and technology advanced even beyond the dreams of the far-sighted Egyptians. Dr David smiles. "We took parts of 1770 to Canada for an exhibition," she says. "We were flying over Greenland and I remember wondering what on earth she would think if she knew she was flying in a plane."

Dr David, who has a dry, twinkling kind of humour (Does she have kids? "No, I am not a mummy"), inherited the mantle of Dr Margaret Murray, the first curator of the Manchester collection. A pioneer in mummy studies, her 1908 autopsy of the Two Brothers brought together experts in anatomy, chemistry and textile studies for the first time. A genuine character, Dr Murray was also a proto-feminist and died at the age of 101 after publishing her autobiography, My First 100 Years.

"Margaret Murray had these same offices," says Dr David. "We have both unwrapped mummies, we both graduated from UCL and we have both looked after the mummies at Manchester. She was a great character, still lecturing at UCL in her 90s." She adds regretfully: "I only missed her there by a couple of years. There was a sculpture of her in the department but it was only when I came here I felt the full impact."

Her personal favourites at the museum include a schist (rock) figure of a hawk from 3100BC and the Riqqeh Pectoral, a 4,000-year-old breast ornament made of gold and inlaid with carnelian, lapis lazuli and turquoise, on which a real Indiana Jones legend rests. In 1913, when the tomb which contained it was opened, archaeologists found the roof had collapsed, trapping a tomb raider in the act of stealing the pectoral.

Dr David points at the ancient artefact and smiles. "When we had a break-in at the museum, someone tried to steal the pectoral," she says, in a tone that tells you not to mess with the pharaohs. "The glass of the box had broken and there was blood everywhere where the thief had obviously been cut. The pectoral was left behind."

Along the row from the pectoral, past the Two Brothers, is Asru's final resting place. Likenesses of her, from the Russian doll lids of her interlocking coffins, look down through dark eye make-up. "Egyptology gives us a false impression of how they looked," says Dr David. "This was how they wanted to be remembered - young, beautiful and free from disease."

She indicates Asru's modern-day tomb, a labelled display case lit by gentle spotlights. "The Egyptians were looking for eternal mention and that is absolutely what they have got, I suppose," says Dr David. "There is a kind of eternity in being here."

Conversations With Mummies, by Dr Rosalie David and Rick Archbold, is published by HarperCollins, price £19.99. To order a copy for the special price of £16.99 plus 99p p&p, call the Express Bookshop on 0870 901 9101.

Insight into the ancient embalmers

Dr David's interest in mummies does not extend to having herself preservedin the same way, or frozen through the more modern method of cryogenics.

"Bob Brier, a professor of philosophy and Egyptology in the US, has used Egyptian methods to preserve an ordinary American who left his body to science," she says, slightly shocked.

The method copied by Brier took 70 days, including ceremonies, and began with breaking the bone at the top of the nose. "The Egyptians pulled the brain out with a pick," says Dr David.

"Then they removed the visceral organs, except the heart and the kidneys, dehydrate them and returned them to the body in jars or packages, so they could be spiritually reunited in the afterlife."

The embalmers were as highly regarded as doctors but the manual labour was done by untouchables, including convicted criminals, because of the likelihood of contracting disease.

"It was a big industry. It began with the Royal Family and spread into the nobility and the middle class but it never touched more than 20 per cent of the population.

"The rest would have been wrapped in reed baskets or mats, which also preserved the bodies, and buried in shallow graves in the desert," explains Dr David. "We have a baby in a reed mat on display."
© Express Newspapers, 2000


October, 2000
Page 48


In The Covert War Against Rock, writer Alex Constantine investigates the federal connections to the deaths of some of music's greatest geniuses.

By Chris Campion

According to a new collection of work by LA-based political researcher Alex Constantine, corporate culture is killing music, literally. The Covert War Against Rock (Feral House) slides through a four-decade hit parade of questionable ends, examining the disputed deaths of politicized musicians from John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh to Tupac, Notorious B.I.G. and Michael Hutchence. All were deemed destabilizing
threats to society according to the CIA¹s Operation CHAOS and/or had unwitting connections to CIA- and Mafia-linked corporate communities which hastened their untimely deaths, Constantine argues.

Keen to distance himself from the murky world of conspiracy theorists, Constantine says, ³I don¹t want anything to do with all the alien stuff and ESP nonsense. I research politics. Fascist politics, specifically. And when I¹m talking about fascism, what I¹m really referring to is unregulated corporatism.²

The fruit of his work is a patchwork of covert culpability painstakingly stitched together from books, news reports, interviews and court documents over a 10-year period. Rather than present scattershot allegations, Constantine draws on a logical web of probable guilt spun directly from the scene of the crime.

In his previous books, Psychic Dictatorship in the U.S.A. and Virtual Government, the researcher fearlessly revealed myriad connections between intelligence agencies, organized crime and ³unregulated corporatism.² For his pains, Constantine himself claims to have been the subject of intimidation and scare tactics: He¹s been warned off by the Mafia, narrowly escaped a ³random² knife attack on the street and was almost bowled over by a ³runaway² police car. But none of these incidents have deterred him from
presenting his research on artist deaths.

³There are people who are stuck on the assassination of Martin Luther King, John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy,² says Constantine, ³but there are hundreds of political assassinations that have taken place in this country. Many of those took place in the music industry. To the CIA, political rock musicians are a significant threat because they influence millions of young minds.²

He believes the bulk of contemporary assassination plots target black musicians, with the eventual aim of de-clawing hip-hop politics and leaving a hollow, jiggy carcass. Sifting through mountainous files of evidence, Constantine came to the conclusion that ³the LAPD killed Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. with federal oversight.² He also notes that one of the lead suspects in Tupac¹s murder is David Mack, an ex-cop doing time for bank robbery who is tied to the LAPD¹s corrupt Ramparts divisions.

Skeptics to the theory of coup d¹état are directed to Frank Owen¹s May 24 Village Voice cover story revealing a mole inside the Wu-Tang Clan camp in the form of FBI informant Michael Caruso. Using the name Lord Michael, Caruso was acting as Cappadonna¹s personal manager until the story broke (he was swiftly fired). In his former life, Caruso was a promoter of the Limelight¹s early 90s Future Shock parties and the kingpin of a drug ring centered around the club. He turned in state¹s evidence on Limelight owner
Peter Gatien and business partner Chris Paciello to avoid doing time. Owens further reveals that the Wu-Tang, and specifically RZA, is currently the subject of an ATF investigation into possible interstate gun-running. It is an attempt to link the weapons found at the scenes of the 1997 murders of Wisegod Allah and Robert Johnson (cited as ³close friends² of RZA and Cappadonna, respectively) to guns bought by alleged We-Tang affiliates in Steubenville, Ohio (the location of the group¹s base camp and also TZA¹s hometown) and brought to Staten Island.

Cue an assertion included in Covert War by Tupac¹s stepfather, Dr. Mutulu Shakur ( a veteran black activist incarcerated on conspiracy charges) that ³the tactics by law enforcement agencies in the past have been to arrest high-profile artists on gun violations.² Shakur also contends that the flames of hip-hop¹s East-West feud have been fanned by the establishment in much the same way that bicoastal Black Panthers were set against each other by a wave of FBI-instigated assassinations in the O70s (as part of the COINTELPRO operation, which was designed to destroy the black resistance

³It¹s incumbent upon rappers to understand what¹s happening,² says Constantine, ³and study the history of COINTELPRO and the Black Panthers. And to see that these patterns are re-emerging in the present day. Because if you don¹t study history then you are doomed to repeat it.²
The Covert War Against rock is available directly from
and most major bookstores for $14.95


From Progressive Review / Undernews 10/02/00 


A subcommittee of the House education committee held an important hearing on
the legalized drugging of school children. There are now some five million children taking drugs thanks to diagnoses of syndromes such as ADD and ADHD. There has even been a recent three-fold increase in the number of 2-4 year
olds placed on Ritalin.

While there is little dispute that such drugs help some children, there is also growing evidence that their use has gotten out of hand. Here are some of the questions being raised:

-- Are ADD and ADHD diseases or merely socially unapproved behavior? One witness, for example, argued that the diagnostic signs -- including inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness -- are just the basic attributes of childhood. Until the children are drugged, there is no disease. "We are crushing spontaneity," he said.

-- The physiological effects of the drugs have not been adequately studied. A study of brain scans of drugged ADHD children found an average 10% brain shrinkage.

-- Are children being over-diagnosed because of funding incentives provided by government, particularly the federal government?

-- Are the fiscal requirements for "special needs" children taking away funding from those with diseases and problems that have a true physical source?

-- Are the remedies used for these children -- such as smaller classrooms and more highly trained teachers -- actually just those needed by all students? Some parents are reported trying to get their children diagnosed so they can have smaller classrooms.

-- What are the social costs to the patient who is labeled or drugged? For example, the military disqualifies applicants who have used brain drugs after the age of 12.

-- What is the connection between the government spending on diagnostic programs and the corporate self-interest of the drug manufacturers? 

Among the questions not asked during the highly informative hearings:

-- Are we drugging the sort of restless children who in other times grew up to be fine artists, writers, and advocates of social change.



WIRED: When Congressman Dick Armey spoke up in favor of filtering software and other Net censorship measures, he probably didn't think it'd come back to bite him in the, um, ass. But irony being what it is, the House majority leader's own conservative Freedom Works site is one of the many blocked by filtering software, according to the winner of the Foiling the Filter  contest's Poetic Justice Award. Bill Hart, a retired Colorado professor, found that at least six filtering programs blocked the Freedom Works site, probably because of the prolific use of the House majority leader's
shortened first name.

Progressive Review
Dr Peter Breggin

Excerpts from testimony by Dr. Peter Breggin, September 29, 2000 Before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Committee on Education and the Workforce U.S. House of Representatives Dr Breggin is director of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology. Since the early 1990s, North America has turned to psychoactive drugs in unprecedented numbers for the control of children. In November 1999, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warned about a record six-fold increase in Ritalin production between 1990 and 1995. In 1995, the
International Narcotics Control Board, a agency of the World Health Organization, deplored that "10 to 12 percent of all boys between the ages 6 and 14 in the United States have been diagnosed as having ADD and are being treated with methylphenidate [Ritalin]."

. . . The number of children on these drugs has continued to escalate. A recent study in Virginia indicated that up to 20% of white boys in the fifth grade were receiving stimulant drugs during the day from school officials. Another study from North Carolina showed that 10% of children were receiving stimulant drugs at home or in school.

. . . Animals and humans cross-addict to methylphenidate, amphetamine and cocaine. These drugs affect the same three neurotransmitter systems and the same parts of the brain . . . Furthermore, their addiction and abuse potential is based on the capacity of these drugs to drastically and permanently change brain chemistry. Studies of amphetamine show that short-term clinical doses produce brain cell death. Similar studies of methylphenidate show long-lasting and sometimes permanent changes in the biochemistry of the brain. All stimulants impair growth not only by suppressing appetite but also by disrupting growth hormone production. This poses a threat to every organ of the body, including the brain, during the child's growth. The disruption of neurotransmitter systems adds to this threat.

. . . It is important for the Education Committee to understand that the ADD/ADHD diagnosis was developed specifically for the purpose of justifying the use of drugs to subdue the behaviors of children in the classroom. The content of the diagnosis in the 1994 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association shows that it is specifically aimed at suppressing unwanted
behaviors in the classroom. The diagnosis is divided into three types: hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.

Under hyperactivity, the first two (and most powerful) criteria are "often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat" and "often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected." Clearly, these two "symptoms" are nothing more nor less than the behaviors most likely to cause disruptions in a large, structured classroom.

Under impulsivity, the first criteria is "often blurts out answers before questions have been completed" and under inattention, the first criteria is "often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities." Once again, the diagnosis itself, formulated over several decades, leaves no question concerning its purpose: to redefine disruptive classroom behavior into a disease. The ultimate aim is to justify the use of medication to suppress or control the behaviors.

Advocates of ADHD and stimulant drugs have claimed that ADHD is associated with changes in the brain. In fact, both the NIH Consensus Development Conference and the American Academy of Pediatrics (2000) report on ADHD have confirmed that there is no known biological basis for ADHD. Any brain abnormalities in these children are almost certainly caused by prior exposure to psychiatric medication.

. . . Hundreds of animal studies and human clinical trials leave no doubt about how the medication works. First, the drugs suppress all spontaneous behavior. In healthy chimpanzees and other animals, this can be measured with precision as a reduction in all spontaneous or self-generated activities. In animals and in humans, this is manifested in a reduction in the following behaviors: (1) exploration and curiosity; (2) socializing, and (3) playing. Second, the drugs increase obsessive-compulsive behaviors, including very limited, overly focused activities. Children become diagnosed with ADHD when they are in conflict with the expectations or demands of parents and/or teachers. The ADHD diagnosis is simply a list of the behaviors that most commonly cause conflict or disturbance in classrooms, especially those that require a high degree of conformity.

By diagnosing the child with ADHD, blame for the conflict is placed on the child. Instead of examining the context of the child's life-why the child is restless or disobedient in the classroom or home-the problem is attributed to the child's faulty brain. Both the classroom and the family are exempt from criticism or from the need to improve, and instead the child is made the source of the problem. The medicating of the child then becomes a coercive response to conflict in which the weakest member of the conflict, the child, is drugged into a more compliant or submissive state. The production of drug-induced obsessive-compulsive disorder in the child especially fits the needs for compliance in regard to otherwise boring or distressing schoolwork.
Many observers have concluded that our schools and our families are failing to meet the needs of our children in a variety of ways. Focusing on schools, many teachers feel stressed by classroom conditions and ill-prepared to deal with emotional problems in the children. The classroom themselves are often too large, there are too few teaching
assistants and volunteers to help out, and the instructional materials are often outdated and boring in comparison to the modern technologies that appeal to children. By diagnosing and drugging our children, we shift blame for the problem from our social institutions and ourselves as adults to the relatively powerless children in our care. We harm our children by failing to identify and to meet their real educational needs for better prepared teachers, more teacher- and child-friendly classrooms, more inspiring
curriculum, and more engaging classroom technologies.

At the same time, when we diagnosis and drug our children, we avoid facing critical issues about educational reform. In effect, we drug the children who are signaling the need for reform, and force all children into conformity with our bureaucratic systems. Finally, when we diagnose and drug our children, we disempower ourselves as adults. While we may gain momentary relief from guilt by imagining that the fault lies in the
brains of our children, ultimately we undermine our ability to make the necessary adult interventions that our children need. We literally become bystanders in the lives of our children.

It is time to reclaim our children from this false and suppressive medical approach. I applaud those parents who have the courage to refuse to give stimulants to their children and who, instead, attempt to identify and to meet their genuine needs in the school, home, and community.




SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Gray Davis is standing behind a California law that imposes some of the nation's toughest rules on press access to inmates, blocking those reporters who do land face-to-face interviews from taking in cameras or writing materials.

Davis last week vetoed a bill that would have eased the policy, telling lawmakers he wants to avoid turning convicts into celebrities.

Critics contend Davis rejected the measure because he fears reporters will unearth what really goes on behind prison walls.

A reporter who wants to interview a specific inmate in person must apply to the corrections department to get on the inmate's visitor list, a process that usually takes at least a month, and can only interview the inmate during normal visiting hours.

Reporters who get permission for a face-to-face interview cannot use cameras or recording devices or take in their own writing materials. They must ask prison officials for paper and pencil to take notes.

State lawmakers voted three consecutive years to ease the restrictions. This year's legislation would have made it easier to arrange interviews, allowing reporters to submit a blanket application covering a year rather than apply for each interview, and use cameras, tape recorders and writing materials.

Davis, a first-term Democratic governor who campaigned as tough on crime, has now vetoed the bill twice, following the lead of his Republican predecessor, Pete Wilson.

Inmate interviews are particularly important during the current debate over whether innocent people are being sent to death row, said Peter Sussman, a former Bay Area newspaper editor.

Journalists "are the court of last resort if they're cutting off appeals," said Sussman, who wrote a 1993 book on the subject, "Committing Journalism." "Any attempt to restrict press access to prisoners has the appearance of aiding a cover-up, even if that's not the governor's intent."

The American Civil Liberties Union accused Davis of vetoing the bill because "he is afraid the truth will come out."

Davis spokeswoman Hilary McLean denied that.

"This bill is inconsistent with the national trend to reduce, not expand, rights of prisoners," Davis wrote in his veto message last week, referring to prohibitions on inmates profiting from their crimes by selling book, TV or movie rights.

"The purpose of incarceration is punishment and deterrence; it is not to provide additional celebrity to convicts, many of whose criminal acts were brutal and violent, thereby causing further pain to the victims and their loved ones," Davis wrote lawmakers.

--->"It is just about the most restrictive state in the country," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

"California has really put the issue on the front burner."

Dalglish took issue with the argument that media access brings celebrity to inmates. Taxpayers need to know how prisons are run, she said.

"The inmates who are celebrities were celebrities before they went to prison," Dalglish said.

Only Mississippi has a more restrictive policy, barring face-to-face and telephone interviews, according to the Society of Professional Journalists. In California, inmates can telephone reporters collect; the calls can be monitored.

Four other states -- Arizona, Idaho, Indiana and Kansas -- also block face-to-face inmate interviews, most of them imitating California, said SPJ President Kyle Niederpruem, an assistant city editor at the Indianapolis Star.

California's prisons cost taxpayers $4.6 billion a year, and the public needs to do know what is going on in them, she said.

"You have some of the most expensive and most populous prisons in the nation ... and they're just keeping it hidden away," Niederprum said.

Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said reporters have plenty of access. They can go on prison tours virtually any day they wish, and interview inmates they randomly meet on those tours, she said.

"If they want to do some expose on the prison system, there's absolutely nothing to prevent them from doing that," Thornton said.

She and Davis noted that journalists can accept collect phone calls from inmates, and inmates can mail them letters -- though the letters are subject to censorship.

The department had a more open policy before 1971, when Black Panther George Jackson was interviewed at San Quentin 66 times in six months. He subsequently was involved in an escape attempt and riot in which two inmates and three guards were killed -- the subject of a book, "The Road to Hell."

The department's interview ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1974, but overturned the same year when state lawmakers passed an "Inmate Bill of Rights." It was reimposed in 1994 when the pendulum swung back to the view that inmates should have no more rights than the basic rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, Thornton said.