Mummification in Ancient Egypt Details, details, details! Why Mummify? Body had to be preserved and recognizable to the owner’s spirit (ka) when they roamed around after their death – essential link to between the deceased and their former earthly self To mimic natural dessication which occurred when bodies were buried in shallow graves in the desert Mummification – two main stages 1. evisceration of the body = removal of the most prominent organs – except the heart 2. dehydration of tissues using natron also: body anointed with oils, sometimes coated with resin, treated with plant products Two refinements over 3000 years removal of the brain began in Middle kingdom body given a lifelike appearance by packing face and neck with sand, sawdust, butter and linen (ca. 1089 BCE) Stages of Mummification 70 day process 30 of which were mainly for religious rituals 1. body taken to embalmer’s workshop by family 2. body placed on a platform and the brains were removed metal hook inserted through a cut in the ethmoid bone through the left nostril hook jiggled around and around till brains were little pieces and were removed by a spatula. Eyes not removed – collapsed and linen pads places over the eyeballs (eventually use artificial eye balls ca. 1089 BCE) 3. body was eviscerated cut was made on the left side of the body embalmer used his hand to get into the abdominal area to cut off the organs with a special knife cut through the chest to get other organs heart left in the body – centre of intellect and emotions kidneys left in the body – no reason given some mummies did not get eviscerated – sometimes organs were removed from the rectum 4. body cavities washed out with palm wine and spices and temporarily packed to avoid a cave-in of the body 5. organs (viscera) were dehydrated with natron sometimes placed in canopic jars by 1089 BCE wrapped in four parcels and replaced in the body even later they were wrapped in one parcel and placed at the legs of the mummy 6. body was dehydrated used solid, dried natron (salt and sodium bicarbonate), salt or lime body packed with natron for 40 days to destroy the fat and grease and dehydrate the tissues 7. body removed from natron bed body, washed to remove natron, straightened and anointed with oils and rubbed with natural perfume 8. cut on the left side is sewn up, cavities packed with linen drenched in resins or wax, nostrils are plugged with resins or wax, body is wrapped in linen cloths and arms arranged across the chest or along side the body 9. Ending came with a special ceremony Liquid substance was poured over the mummy, containers (organs) and coffin Family removed mummy and organized burial ceremony Interesting Points about the Embalmers and Cutters: Embalmers Belonged to a special guild of undertakers Highly respected Priests Highly-skilled and trained professionals Strong religious and possibly medical associations Worked independently for money Supervised all stages of the mummification process Hereditary position Many cases they employed coffinmakers and owned tombs on town land Cutters Considered “impure”, unclean and untouchable (came in contact with dead and possibly evil spirits) Never rose in status from this occupation Usually social outcasts Sometimes convicted criminals Reference David, Rosalie. Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt. New York: Facts on File, 1998.