The Mummification Process In Ancient Egypt: From Ritual to Science.

The Mummification Process In Ancient Egypt: From Ritual to Science.

What Is Mummification?

The technique of embalming or preserving a body after a person has passed away is called mummification. The ancient Egyptians invented the practice of mummifying bodies. Due to the Egyptians’ practice of burying their deceased in small, exposed graves in the scorching desert, the first types of mummification are believed to have occurred accidentally. Egypt’s 4th and 5th Dynasties began in 2600 BCE when the practice of mummifying the dead first began.

What Was Mummification Used For?

Mummification was used to keep the corpse intact for the afterlife. The ancient Egyptians believed that everyone entered an afterlife after passing away. The Egyptians believed that an afterlife depended on a physical form that a person’s soul might take back after passing away.

They also believed that a person’s former body had to be recognizable for the soul to find the appropriate body in the afterlife. Mummification took seventy days, and great care was taken to preserve the individual’s features. They believed that if the body was hurt or deformed, the spirit would be unable to use it in the afterlife and would be lost for all time.

The process of mummification was expensive and time-consuming. In most cases, only wealthy people could afford to pay for a loved one’s mummification. Being a profoundly religious procedure, mummification was carried out by a priest. There is proof that some animals may have also been mummified for religious purposes. The chief priest who oversaw mummifications wore an Anubis mask. The mask resembled the head of a jackal, and Anubis was the god of the dead.

Anubis the godSource: World History Encyclopedia

Where Mummification First Began?

According to the conventional theory, it started with preserving Old Kingdom royals around 2600 BCE. It evolved due to observing bodies naturally preserved in hot desert sands. According to recent research, artificial mummification dates back far more.

The Process Of Mummification

The process of mummification takes seventy days. Special priests handled and dressed the body as embalmers. The priests required a thorough understanding of human anatomy and the proper rites and prayers to be said at different times.

Step 1: Get The Body Ready

All internal components that might degrade quickly were removed as the initial step in the procedure. The brain was extracted by delicately pulling out pieces of brain tissue with special hooked devices inserted through the nose. It was a delicate procedure that might quickly leave the face disfigured. The embalmers removed the abdominal and chest organs using a cut often performed on the left side of the abdomen. They only left the heart in place because they thought it represented the core of a person’s intelligence and existence.

The stomach, liver, lungs, and intestines were kept individually and put in special containers known as canopic jars today. They were interred alongside the mummy. The organs were treated, wrapped, and returned to the body in later mummies. Canopic pots that had been empty were nevertheless employed in the burial process.

Step 02: Dry The Body

The body’s wetness was then completely removed by the embalmers. To accomplish this, they covered the body with natron, a salt with excellent drying characteristics, and stuffed extra natron packets inside the corpse. Embalmers removed the inside boxes and gently rinsed the natron off the body once the body had completely dried out. A very dried-out but recognizably human figure was the end product. Hollow portions of the corpse were covered in linen and other materials, and artificial eyes were placed to make the mummy appear even more lifelike.

Step 03: Wrap The Body

Then the wrapping started. Several hundred yards of linen were required for each mummy. Long strips of linen were painstakingly twisted around the body by the priests, who occasionally wrapped each finger and toe individually before encircling the entire hand or foot. Amulets were interspersed with wrappings, and some linen strips had prayers and mystical writing on them to protect the dead from misfortune. The priests frequently inserted a mask of the person’s face between the layers of headbands.

The form was covered with warm resin at various points, and wrapping resumed. The priests finally placed the last shroud and fastened it with linen strips. The mummy had been finished.
Other people were working during this time besides the monks preparing the mummies. Although the tomb preparation usually began far earlier than the person’s passing, artisans, workers, and craftspeople hurried because of the impending deadline. The tomb needed to have a lot of items that a person would require in the hereafter. Murals of religious or everyday subjects were arranged, furniture and statuettes were set up, and meal or prayer lists were completed.

In the afterlife, these models, images, and lists would magically transform into the real thing when necessary. The funeral was now ready to go, everything.

Priests conducted elaborate religious procedures at the tomb’s entrance as part of the funeral. The “Opening of the Mouth” was the most significant portion of the event. With a unique tool, a priest touched various portions of the mummies to “open” them to the senses that would be useful in the hereafter. The deceased might now communicate by placing the object in their mouth and speaking or eating. He was now prepared to make the trip to the afterlife. The entrance was sealed once the mummy was deposited in his coffin (or coffins) in the burial chamber.

Wrapped MummySource: Wallpaper Flare

These ornate burial customs indicate that the Egyptians were fascinated with death-related ideas. Instead, because of their intense love of life, they started preparing for their death early on. The present was the best life they could imagine, and they wished to ensure that it would endure after death.

But why keep the corpse intact? In the eyes of the Egyptians, the mummified body served as the dwelling place for this soul or spirit. The spirit might be lost if the body were to be destroyed. Three spirits—the ka, ba, and akh—comprise the complicated concept of “spirit.” The sacrifices and items were needed at the tomb because the ka, a “double” of the deceased, would stay there. The ba, or “soul,” had free rein to leave and enter the tomb. And the entity that had to pass through the Underworld to reach the Final Judgment and enter the afterlife was the akh, likely best translated as “spirit.” All three were crucial to the Egyptians.

Around the fourth century A.D., while Rome ruled Egypt and Christianity was growing, mummification in Egypt became a forgotten skill. Mummies, however, have given us an insight into the rich culture and practices of this ancient society since the Egyptians were experts at keeping the dead intact.

However, this does not mean that corpse preservation is dead. Not only was mummification practiced in Egypt; in specific ways, but it has also stood the test of time. In Papua New Guinea today, people still mummify the dead. In addition, funeral establishments in the West frequently embalm deceased people to delay decomposition and give time for ceremonies. It is well known that anatomical laboratories also use methods to preserve bodies for research and education.

About The Author

Rajika Nanayakkara

My name is Rajika Nanayakkara and I am a passionate writer with a deep love for ancient history. With a keen eye for detail and a natural curiosity, I have dedicated myself to exploring the mysteries and wonders of the past. Through my writing, I seeks to bring the stories of ancient civilizations to life, providing a glimpse into the rich and fascinating world of our ancestors. My writings has been featured through

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