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Ancient Egypt
Home | An Introduction | Pyramids of Egypt | "Beautiful Festival of the Valley" | The Mystery of Cleopatra's Death | Photo Gallery | Duties of Gods and Goddesses | Gods and Goddesses Family Tree | The Process of Mummification | Egyptian Writing | Craft Workers | Egyptians' Theory of the Creation of the Earth | Egyptionary | My Own Work | King Tutankhamun | Egyptian Menu | Ancient Egyptian Fun | Bibliography
The Process of Mummification

 
The process of mummification has two stages which are embalming and wrapping.

Embalming
 
The body is taken to a tent which is known as "ibu" ("the place of purification"). Embalmers wash the body with palm wine, then rinse it with Nile water. A cut is then made on the left side of the body and most of the internal organs are removed. The liver, lungs, intestine and stomach are washed and put in natron which will help dry them out. The heart is left inside the body becuase the Egyptians believed iit to be the centre of intelligence and the man will need to use his heart in the afterlife. One process that is familiar to most people is that a long hook is used to pull the dead body's brain through his nose. Now, the body is covered and stuffed with natron. Forty days later, the body is washed again. Then it is covered with oils to keep the elasticity in the skin. The organs are dehydrated and wrapped in linen. They are then returned to the body. The body is stuffed with sawdust and other dry materials. The body is again covered with oils and is now ready to be wrapped.

dehydrated.jpg
Earlier ancient Egyptians would bury the dead it small pits...this is the damage it did to the dead.

Canopic Jars
 
Canopic jars played a significant role during the mummification process. Each of the jars were used to hold and protect a single organ. The two organs that were not placed in the canopic jars were the heart and the brain. The heart remained inside the body becuase it was believed to be the center of souls, intelligence and emotions. The brain was removed, but thrown out because it was belived to be useless.
 
 

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     There were four jars, which meant four organs. One jar had the head of a jackel named Duamutif, who protected the stomach. There was Hapi (with the head of a baboon) who held onto the lungs. The intestines were preserved inside a canopic jar named Quebehsnuf, who has the head of a falcon. Lastly, Imsety the human protected the liver.  

Tools and Materials

  • palm wine
  • long hook
  • natron
  • oils
  • linen strips
  • sawdust and other dry materials
  • four canopic jars

Wrapping
 
The head and the neck of the dead body are first wrapped in strips of linen. Then the toes and fingers are wrapped individually. between layers of wrapping, embalmers place amulets to protect the body in its journey through the underworld. A priest reads aloud spells while the mummy is being wrapped. The spells help to ward off evil spirits and also help protect the deseased in their afterlife. The body's arms and legs are tied together. A papyrus scroll of spells from the Book of the Dead is placed between the hands. More linen strips are wrapped around the body. At every layer, resin is painted on the bandages. Wrapped around the body is a cloth, with a picture of the god Osiris painted on its surface. Next, a large cloth is wrapped around the entire mummy, and strips of linen are attached to it.  A board of painted wood is placed ontop of the mummy, then it is lowered into a coffin. The first coffin is placed inside another coffin. Finally, the body and its coffins are placed inside a large stone sarcophagus.

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Mummy of Ramses II