Mummification

The process of mummification takes a lot of precision, care, and time.  Mummification techniques have evolved through time, beginning as early as the Dynastic times of ancient Egypt.  The complicated procedure is very interesting, yet some of the techniques are a little confusing.  For example, why did they remove the brain, internal organs, and lungs from the body but not the heart?  Did they not remove the heart because it was too sacred, or was it needed in the afterlife?  Then why would they take out all of the other organs? Were they just unnecessary in the afterlife, or was there a different symbolic, religious, or medical reason?  These organs were obviously still important though because they were cleaned and preserved in containers that were guarded by the sons of Horus.  After all of this, the body was wrapped in linens, protected by amulets.  This whole process takes about one hundred and ten days.  The care of the dead to help them journey through the afterlife was obviously an important task.  This is known because of the time and amount of detail put into preserving the dead.

Current technologies are excellent in providing new information about mummification and the ancient Egyptians.  Many mummies can now be x-rayed and tissues can be rehydrated, which can show evidence of diseases that were present in these mummies when they were living.  X-rays show such problems as trauma, arthritis, poliomyelitis, dental abscesses, and other diseases.  These defects are even seen in royal mummies.  Humorously, the mummy of Makara the priestess who was formerly thought to have been buried with her child was found to be buried with a baboon instead through the use of these new x-ray technologies.  Now, the sex and age of mummies can be determined without unwrapping the linens.  These technologies help by better preserving the bodies because some do not have to be disturbed by unwrapping them and doing autopsies.  Studying mummies provides an interesting view into the life and death of the ancient Egyptians.

1 thought on “Mummification

  1. I think they kept the heart in the body because they believed that it was the center of their intelligence and emotions, basically what we know the brain to do today, therefore it was in fact scared to them. Though I am not completely sure why they needed to remove the other organs; maybe they did not preserve correctly while inside the body, perhaps it was to costly and/or difficult to embalm or pack them while they were still inside, or it could be that their technique for preservation outside the body allowed the organs to be better preserved, contained, and easier for the deceased to find in afterlife. They could have believed that these organs were also scared on some level and needed extra protection from the gods. The preparation of the dead for they’re up coming journey into the afterlife was very important and was at the forefront of their beliefs.

    I think the various techniques that we use today to study and research these mummies are fascinating and they also allow us to examine them without destroying or disassembling them. These techniques allow us to be able to research not only the individual but also their life and what they lived through, in terms of disease, injury, and/or illness as well as keeping them preserved for future generations. Since the royal mummies also show evidence of disease and/injury, it just shows that even if you have power and riches you are still not good enough to be immune from disease. Also, there is a higher prevalence of dental disease found in royal families because of the increase in sugar within their diets that the common people did not have access to. The research that these techniques allow us to conduct can and/or will tell us a lot about these diseases, the genetics of these mummies, and possibly even more about how people lived during this time. I thought it was interesting and somewhat comical when I read that the priestess was buried with a baboon. She must have either cared a lot about that baboon or maybe there was a religious significance to the baboon itself. Good Post!!

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