Ancient Egypt Mummies
Wrap it up
"Mummy" comes from the Persian word "mummiya", meaning tar, pitch or any black sticky substance.
Ancient Egypt mummies are the earliest examples of the science of embalming, perfected and practiced by ancient Egypt priests since the first dynasties. Ancient egyptians were keen observers of all natural processes. The dry climate and other geographical conditions in ancient Egypt provide an environment where a body can get mummified naturally by desiccation. Egyptians recreated this natural process by the use of natron, a salt compound in which they immersed the body for a period of fifty days.
Mummification was an intricate combination of ritual and science, and became a significant aspect of ancient Egypt funeral practices and religion, not only for the pharaoh and nobles, but for the general population. Of course, only the privileged social classes could afford the best and most elaborate funeral.
The preparation of ancient Egypt mummies involved great care and expense. The priests wore masks representing Anubis, the god of embalming. The internal organs of the deceased, except the heart, thought to be the seat of intelligence, and necessary for the weighing against the feather of Maat at the Hall of Truth, were removed, mummified and placed in containers known as canopic jars. Curiously, the brain was discarded. The brain tissue was removed through the nostrils using a special surgical instrument.
After the body had thoroughly dried down in natron to hair, skin and bones, it was filled back to shape with sawdust, resins and linens saturated with essential oils.
The final step is how we identify ancient Egypt mummies from the embalming procedures of other cultures. The entire body of the mummy was tightly wrapped in layers of linen, with careful attention to each finger and toe. During this process, amulets and jewelry were placed between the layers of linen, and their particular powers awakened by magic medicine and prayers. A scarab beetle amulet was placed over the heart. Finally, the mummy was ready to embark on its final journey across the Nile.
The University of Manchester in the UK has a Center for Biomedical Egyptology where they study ancient Egyptian mummy tissue, applying modern techniques such as endoscopy, radiology, histology and DNA research to determine what medicinal plants were used in Ancient Egypt. They also study what diseases affected the ancient Egyptians and how this knowledge can help in the cure and prevention of modern illnesses.
I'll take it
Not only did ancient Egyptians believe in an afterlife, but that it was possible to bring along your material goods, too. That's one reason why we know so much about this fascinating civilization. All sorts of personal belongings have been discovered in tombs, including ancient Egypt utensils, furniture and jewelry.
We can distinguish the social structures of ancient Egypt by how luxurious these tombs were once. Favorite domestic animals, cats for example, were mummified and buried with the owner. Ancient Egypt mummies of rich people were buried with a stack of small mummy figures called ushabti, servants meant to be awakened by a special prayer inscribed in them so they could perform manual labors for the deceased in the realm of Osiris.
Category: Ancient Egypt
Related reading: Egyptian Symbols
Recommended reading: The Royal Tombs of Egypt
The skills of the ancient Egyptians in preserving bodies through mummification are well known, but their expertise in medical practices used to treat the living are less familiar. This work reassesses the evidence of the original Egyptian medical papryi and other sources of information such as skeletons and coffins, and incorporates insights of modern medicine and Egyptology, to present a study of everyday Egyptian medical practices.