Françoise Dunand

Françoise Dunand (born 1934) is a French historian, professor emeritus of the University of Strasbourg. She is a specialist on Greek and Roman Egypt.

Françoise Dunand
Born1934 (age 85–86)
OccupationHistorian, Egyptologist
AwardsPrix Clio pour la recherche archéologique (‘Prix Clio for archaeological research’)


Since 1981, Françoise Dunand has been leading the "Alpha Necropolis" team to excavate the necropolises at the Kharga Oasis in Egypt.[1] She is a former member of the Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale (IFAO) in Cairo, she has published a number of books and articles on late Egyptian religious beliefs and practices. Since 1983 she has directed IFAO archaeological excavations at the necropolis at the village of Duch [fr] in Egypt’s western desert.[2] The findings at Duch are partly presented in her book Les momies : Un voyage dans l'éternité.

She frequently collaborates with Roger Lichtenberg, a medical doctor and director of the radiology unit at the Institut Arthur Vernes [fr] in Paris. He has conducted anthropological and palaeopathological studies on the mummies of Duch, and is co-author of Les momies : Un voyage dans l'éternité.[2][3]

She participated in the writing of a collective work La mort et l'immortalité : Encyclopédie des savoirs et des croyances by signing in the second chapter entitled La mort et le devenir du corps, an article Des corps sortis du temps.


  • 1999: Prix Clio for archaeological research – Special Jury Prize for her Etude archéologique et anthropologique de la nécropole d’El Deioasis de Kharga[4]
  • 2002: Prix Clio for archaeological research – for her Kharga[5]

Les momies : Un voyage dans l'éternitéEdit

Les momies : Un voyage dans l'éternité
AuthorFrançoise Dunand & Roger Lichtenberg
Original titleLes momies : Un voyage dans l'éternité
TranslatorRuth Sharman
Cover artistAnonymous (FR & US eds.)
Anonymous. Ramesses II in his wooden coffin, photograph; detail from the Hildesheim sarcophagus. (UK ed.)
SeriesDécouvertes Gallimard●Archéologie
Release number
SubjectEgyptian mummies, Ancient Egyptian funerary practices
GenreNonfiction monograph
PublisherFR: Éditions Gallimard
US: Harry N. Abrams
UK: Thames & Hudson
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Pages128 pp.; 144 pp. (new edition)
128 pp. (UK & US editions)
ISBN978-2-070-53167-7 (first edition)
Preceded byL'Afrique des explorateurs : Vers les sources du Nil 
Followed byJules Verne : Le rêve du progrès
A Fayum mummy portrait, cover image for French edition.
Illustration from the Book of the Dead of Tchenena, cover image for US edition.

Since Herodotus, the ancient travellers had been struck by this strange country, which "is nothing like the others", and the ancient Egyptians preserved the dead body in as life-like a manner as possible. Thanks to the testimonies of the Arabs, the West has always known that ancient Egypt was a country of mummies. Today, we know most of the process of mummification, desiccation of bodies obtained through the dry climate of Egypt, the removal of viscera, the use of natron and bandages. Similarly, we know what kind of rituals accompanied the preparation of the corpse, who were responsible for the mummification process. As for why the mummification, it is related to the Egyptian religion, for which it is the guarantee of immortality, the possibility of a new life (life after death).

Based on recent radiographic and genetic analyses of bodies, Françoise Dunand and Roger Lichtenberg take stock of the historical knowledge of mummies, and add a scientific dimension in this small colourful book—Les momies : Un voyage dans l'éternité (lit. "The Mummies: A Journey into Eternity"; US edition – Mummies: A Voyage Through Eternity; UK edition – Mummies: A Journey Through Eternity)—published by Éditions Gallimard in the Archéologie series of their Découvertes collection. According to standards of the collection, the book is richly documented with more than 200 illustrations—drawings, paintings, sculptures, X-ray photographs of mummies, etc., which illustrate the body copy as the pages are pretty equally shared between images and texts—and printed on glossy paper.

This book is an archaeological and anthropological study on funeral practices in ancient Egypt. It opens with full-page head shots of nine mummies from the necropolis at Duch [fr] excavated by Dunand's IFAO team. Images from the excavation at the Duch necropolis are also some of the book's highlights. The authors approach the subject from different angles: the discoveries of mummies by the Western world (chap. Ⅰ, "Mummies Come to Light"), such as the writings of Herodotus and curiosity of Egyptomania in the 19th century, up to the scientific research of the 20th century with the contribution of radiology techniques (chap. Ⅴ, "Under Expert Analysis"). The second chapter—"Making a Better Mummy"—deals with how the ancient Egyptians mummified a body, while the third chapter, "Toward Immortality", illustrated with ancient paintings explaining the rites and beliefs. Chapter Ⅳ, "From Eternal Life to Harsh Reality" tells the valuable offerings which the ancient Egyptians furnished with their dead, and the direct consequence of this: the pillaging of tombs. In the last chapter (chap. Ⅴ), the scientists give anthropological results.

In its second part—the "Documents" section—the book provides a compilation of excerpts taken from some ancient documents and texts by 19th-century investigators, which is divided into five parts: 1, Funeral Rites; 2, Mummification According to Herodotus; 3, An Unpeaceful End; 4, Two Sensational Discoveries; 5, Looking into Mummies. The book closes with a chronology, map, further reading, list of illustrations and an index. It has been translated into American and British English, Dutch, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and traditional Chinese.

Selected publicationsEdit

  • Co-author with Roger Lichtenberg, Les momies : Un voyage dans l’éternité, collection « Découvertes Gallimard » (nº 118), série Archéologie. Éditions Gallimard, 1991 (new edition in 2007)[6]
    • US edition – Mummies: A Voyage Through Eternity, "Abrams Discoveries" series. Harry N. Abrams, 1994
    • UK edition – Mummies: A Journey Through Eternity, ‘New Horizons’ series. Thames & Hudson, 1994
  • Co-author with Roger Lichtenberg, Les égyptiens, coll. « Les grandes civilisations ». Éditions du Chêne, 2004
  • Co-author with Christiane Zivie-Coche, Gods and Men in Egypt: 3000 BCE to 395 CE, Cornell University Press, 2004
  • Co-author with Roger Lichtenberg, Mummies and Death in Egypt, Cornell University Press, 2007
  • Isis, mère des dieux, coll. « Babel ». Actes Sud, 2008
Participated in the collective work
  • AA.VV., La mort et l’immortalité : Encyclopédie des savoirs et des croyances, Bayard, 2004


Les Momies du Désert (lit. ‘The Mummies of the Desert’), a 13-minute short documentary film about Françoise Dunand’s archaeological dig at the Kharga Oasis, directed by Serge Tignères and Alain Zenou. It is part of the DVD Le mystère des momies from Arte's documentary series The Human Adventure, and available in English.[7]


  1. ^ "Françoise Dunand". Babelio [fr] (in French). Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  2. ^ a b Dunand, Françoise; Lichtenberg, Roger (1994). Mummies: A Voyage Through Eternity. "Abrams Discoveries" series. Translated by Sharman, Ruth. New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 128. ISBN 9780810928862. OCLC 31469421. About the authors
  3. ^ "Roger Lichtenberg". Babelio (in French). Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  4. ^ "Prix Clio pour la recherche archéologique : Palmarès 1999". (in French). Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  5. ^ "Prix Clio pour la recherche archéologique : Palmarès 2002". (in French). Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  6. ^ "Les momies : Un voyage dans l'éternité, collection Découvertes Gallimard (n° 118)" (in French). Éditions Gallimard. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  7. ^ "Le mystère des Momies". (in French). Retrieved 2018-01-30.