Mummification - The Eternal Existence.
The examples of mummification that have occurred naturally throughout the world have provided invaluable clues to the lives of long expired civilizations.
So when the ancient Egyptians developed a way of simulating the drying, preserving effects of natural mummification, they left the world with a bounty of clues into the inner workings of their world.
Although the methods differed between different dynasties and social classes, the stages below represent the basic procedures involved.
1. Removal of organs - The organs were removed from the abdominal cavity through an incision in the left flank.
They were then dehydrated with natron (a salty substance similar to baking soda) and either placed in jars (called canopic jars that featured lids in the shape of a god) or packaged and replaced in the body.
The heart was believed to be the life force of the individual and it was left in place.
The brain was removed by mashing it and removing it through the nasal cavity.
2. Stuffing - After washing the cavities with sweet smelling palm wine, the body was stuffed with dry materials such as sawdust. This gave it a fuller appearance; as it was in life.
3. Dehydration - This was the second stage that involved packing the body in a bath of natron.
4. Plugging the cavities - cavities were plugged with resin or wax.
5. Cosmetics - The body was anointed with resins and oils to mask odours associated with decomposition and preserve a life-like elasticity in the skin.
6. Wrapping - The body was then wrapped in linen bandages to prevent swelling.
7. The body and coffin were returned to the family for burial.
The embalmers were responsible for preparing the deceased for their afterworld journey.
The head embalmer wore the mask of Anubis and was a priest trained in the art of mummification. The mummy would mostly be prepared by other workers under his instruction.
Warding off evil spirits.
It was very important that the mummy was sent safely on their final journey. Evil spirits were an ever-present danger and certain steps had to be taken to keep them away.
Some preventative measures involved:
* Placing the removed internal organs in canopic jars which had stone or wood carved lids that represented the four sons of Horus.
* Amulets were placed between the layers of wrapping. The Isis amulet was one such amulet that protected the body.
* During the wrapping, the priest read spells that deterred evil spirits.
* A papyrus scroll containing spells from the Book of The Dead was placed between the wrapped hands.
Mummification for the common man.
Some of the lengthy procedures were expensive and did not allow for the common classes.
They were buried in the desert in the traditional way and mummified by nature with a minimum of fuss.
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