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Essay/Term paper: Mummification

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities

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Mummification is the form of embalming practiced by the ancient

Egyptians. The mummification process changed over time from the Old

Kingdom, when only kings could be mummified to the New Kingdom, in which

everyone could be mummified. The entire process of mummification to be

completed took 70 days. After a body was delivered to the per nefer, which

is where the embalmers conducted their tasks. The first thing that was done

was put the deceased on a slanted table.

The first thing that needed to be removed was the soft, moist body

parts that would cause decay. As the embalmers removed these parts, blood

and other bodily fluids came out and went down the table being collected

into a bowl. During the old and Middle Kingdoms, the brain was left in the

head, in which it just dried up over time. When these mummies are moved

you can hear the hardened pieces of the brain rolling around in the mummies

head. Then in the New Kingdom, the embalmers started removing the brain.

They would break open the bone that separates the nasal cavity from the

brain cavity. They did this by shoving a sharp instrument up the nose. After

they broke the bone, the embalmers used a hook to either take the brain out

piece by piece, or used the hook to stir the brain until it was liquefied. If it was liquefied they would turn the body face down so that the brain would spill out of the nostrils. The reason the Egyptians were so rough with the brain because they didn"t think that the brain had a lot of importance in the persons body. They thought that it was just there to produce snot. Instead of the Egyptians thinking that the brain was where everyone got their intelligence, memory, thoughts, etc, they thought that the heart responsible for those things. The heart was sometimes left in the body, but other times it was removed and dried with natron. Then it was either put back in the corpses body or placed beside it in the coffin.

After the soft body parts were removed one of the embalmers would make an incision in the left side above the abdomen. Although this was needed to remove the organs, the Egyptians didn"t like to do this incision because they thought that it was sinful to damage a corpse. By making this incision they took out the stomach, intestines, liver, and lungs. After they were taken out the embalmers would then preserve it by drying them in a natural salt called natron which is now called baking soda. In the Old Kingdom after they were dried, the embalmers would put the organs in a four-chambered box made of wood, clay, or stone.This box was stored in the mummy"s tomb. Then in the Middle Kingdom, the embalmers put each organ in a separate container called a canopic jar. The stoppers of the jars were carved o look like the face of the dead person. Then in the New Kingdom, the stoppers of the canopic jars were carved to look like the heads of the four sons of the god Horus.Then later on the canopic jars were placed in the four chambered chest. By 1000 BC, the preserved organs were wrapped in linen and placed back in the mummy"s body. The empty canopic jars were still placed in the tomb.

It was said that each son protected the organ that was held inside of each jar. Duamutef, who had the head of a jackal, protected the jar in which held the stomach. Qebehsenuf, who had a head of a falcon, protected the intestines. Hapi, who had the head of a baboon protected the lungs, and

Imseti protected the liver.

After the organs were taken out of the body, the body was washed with wine and rubbed with spices. The alcohol in the wine helped to kill bacteria. The corpse was the covered with natron, in which it stayed on the corpses body for 40 days to dry the body. After the corpse was dry then the skin was shrunken and leathery. The mummy was cleaned again and rubbed with oils to soften the skin of the corpse.

The eye of Horus, known as a wedjat, is associated with healing and

protection. A wax or bronze plate with a wedjat, the eye of Horus, carved into it was placed over the embalming incision to magically heal the mummy in

the afterlife.Once the mummy was full dried and cleaned and the process was done it was decorated with jewelry. Then the body was covered with linen shrouds and bound together with linen strips. Good luck Charms or amulets were placed between the layers of bandages. Jewelry was also placed in between the bandages. At stage of

wrapping, a priest recited spells and prayers. This whole procedure took

about fifteen days. After the wrapping was complete, the body was put into

a shroud.

My conclusion on mummification was that before Egyptians actually

cared about if people"s souls were resting in peace. They might still care but nothing compares to how they felt about it before. I think that people cared because why would they waste 70 days of their lives to bury someone, and use up so much of there time taking out body parts, drying out the body

parts, drying out the body, etc. I just think that before people actually

cared about the dead and if their souls were at peace, and now a days it

doesn"t seem like that.


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