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Secrets of Mummification in Ancient Egypt Civilization

Updated: Dec 11, 2022

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Embedded on the banks of river Nile was the ancient Egypt Civilization which has captured the imagination of many people in different times and from different philosophical perspective.

The ancient Egyptians believed in several rituals in order to reach the afterlife and enter into a different world. They believed that the body and soul were important to human existence even during afterlife. The most prominent and perhaps the salient feature of ancient Egyptians was the funeral rites and practices popularly known as the process of Mummification and burials in tombs which were designed to assist the deceased find their way in the afterlife.

The process of Mummification was a tedious process which took 70 days specifically, assigned priest worked as embalmers who treated the body with care. Apart from performing the final rituals and reciting hymns and prayers, the priest also needed an in-depth knowledge of the human anatomy. First the body was washed carefully with salts and the brain was then removed and discarded using a hook through nostrils, in order to pull out bits of the brain tissue. this was a delicate operation as one could easily disfigure the face if not done in a proper manner. After which the body was slit open and the organs were removed except the heart of the person as the ancient Egyptians believed that heart played a major role in guiding a person into the afterlife Organs such as the liver, lungs and the intestine and stomach were kept and placed in Canopic jars. Afterwards the body was packed with a special salt called as Natron, which has great drying properties and by placing additional Natron packets inside the body, they made sure that there was no room for moisture and prevented the flesh from rotting. When the body has dried out completely embalmers removed the internal packets and lightly washed the Natron off the body, which resulted in a very dried out recognizable human form. To make the mummy seem even more lifelike, sunken areas of the body were filled out with linen and other materials and false eyes were added.

After the completion of this process, each mummy needed hundreds of yards of linen. The priest carefully wound the long strips of linen around the body sometime even wrapping each finger and toe separately before wrapping the entire hand or foot. In order to protect the dead from any kind of mishap, amulets with religious significance were placed among the wrappings. Often the priest also placed a mask of the person's face between the layers of head hand bandages. At several stages the form was coated with warm resin which was used to cover the body to prevent mild after which the whole body was wrapped in layers of linen bandages. The mummy was then complete. Apart from the Mummification process done by the priest, other workers also overlooked the tomb preparation which usually began long before the person's actual death, now there was a deadline and the craftsmen, workers and artists had to speed up their pace and work harder. Mummies were often buried with items which they ancient Egyptians thought would be useful for them in the afterlife, which included jewellery, clothes, furniture many a times even pets such as cats and dogs were mummified and buried along with their owner.

On the wooden coffin, also called as the Sarcophagus Egyptians symbols of protection and rebirth were painted and illustrated on the outer cloth with pigments and golds.

Wall painting of religious or daily scenes were portrayed in the form of hieroglyphs, which were the formal writing system used in ancient Egypt, and lists of food or prayer were portrayed which, the ancient Egyptians believed would come to life and help the deceased in the afterlife. As a part of the funeral, priest performed special religious rites at the tombs entrance.

This most important part of the ceremony was called the "opening of the mouth" a priest touched various parts of the mummy with a special instrument to open those parts of the body to senses enjoyed in life and needed in afterlife. By touching the instrument to the mouth, the dead person could now speak and eat. Such elaborate practises suggested that the Egyptians were preoccupied with the thoughts of death.

Constant developments in archaeology and new discoveries related to ancient Egypt has led to the formation of new branch of archaeological study called as Egyptology which refers to the study of ancient Egyptian history, language especially the study of hieroglyphics and deciphering it along with literature, religion etc.

The one who studies Egyptology is called an Egyptologist, who is an expert in the scientific study of ancient Egypt and its antiquities.

When we talk about famous Egyptologists, names like Flinders Petrie, Zahi hawass, and Howard Carter are quite prominent.

British Egyptologist, Flinders Petrie was the first person to discover the pyramids of Giza, which happens to be one of the seven wonders of the world today, it was his comprehensive excavation of the great Pyramid which he surveyed and mapped the Giza necropolis.


famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass is credited with the discovery of the "lost golden City" near the Luxor. He coined it to be the largest ancient city, known as Aten which was bigger than all the other cities in ancient Egypt. It was unearthed within the weeks of the excavation under the guidance and supervision of Zahi hawass. Zahi hawas also went on to become the minister of state for Antiquities affairs of Egypt. Now talking about the pioneer in the field of ancient Egypt discoveries is that great Howard Carter who is credited with the discovery of one of the most popular mummies in the entire world which is of King Tutankhamun, popularly known as king Tut. King Tut belonged was a powerful Egyptian pharaoh who was the last of his royal family to be ruling in the end of 18th Dynasty.

Today, Egyptian archaeologists are still making massive discoveries and the scientific study of royal mummies is shedding new light on the genealogy of the pharaohs. The ongoing deciphering of hieroglyphic writings are shedding lights and unravelling the mysteries of the ancient Egyptians along with their culture.


By our Member - Anusha Mangalvedhe (Get membership and feature your article. Check here)




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