Mummification

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Mummification         The ancient Egyptians believed in life after death. The believed that mummification would guarantee passage into the next life. Some people believed that the dead lived on in the tomb.

The mode of embalming, according to the most perfect process, is the following:- They take first a crooked piece of iron, and with it draw out the brain through the nostrils, thus getting rid of a portion, while the skull is cleared of the rest by rinsing with drugs; next they make a cut along the flank with a sharp Ethiopian stone, and take out the whole contents of the abdomen, which they then cleanse, washing it thoroughly with palm wine, and again frequently with an infusion of pounded aromatics. After this they fill the cavity with the purest bruised myrrh, with cassia, and every other sort of spicery except frankincense, and sew up the opening. Then the body is placed in natrum for seventy days, and covered entirely over.

After the expiration of that space of time, which must not be exceeded, the body is washed, and wrapped round, from head to foot, with bandages of fine linen cloth, smeared over with gum, which is used generally by the Egyptians in the place of glue, and in this state it is given back to the relations, who enclose it in a wooden case which they have had made for the purpose, shaped into the figure of a man. Then fastening the case, they place it in a sepulchral chamber, upright against the wall. Such is the most costly way of embalming the dead.

If persons wish to avoid expense, and choose the second process, the following is the method pursued:- Syringes are filled with oil made from the cedar-tree, which is then, without any incision or disemboweling, injected into the abdomen. The passage by which it might be likely to return is stopped, and the body laid in natrum the prescribed number of days. At the end of the time the cedar-oil is allowed to make its escape; and such is its power that it brings with it the whole stomach and intestines in a liquid state. The natrum meanwhile has dissolved the flesh, and so nothing is left of the dead body but the skin and the bones. It is returned in this condition to the relatives, without any further trouble being bestowed upon it.

The third method of embalming, which is practiced in the case of the poorer classes, is to clear out the intestines with a clyster, and let the body lie in natrum the seventy days, after which it is at once given to those who come to fetch it away.

The Ancient Egyptians believed in life after death and they thought that if your body was preserved you would live forever. They also believed in many gods, among a few being: Osiris- the god of the dead, Isis- the goddess of the dead who was Osiris' wife, and Anubis- the god of embalming.

Mummies were originally made by burying corpses deep in the hot, dry sand of the desert. One problem with this way of mummifying was that people and animals could easily get into the grave of a person and steal their possessions that they were buried with to use in the afterlife.

Later on another way of embalming was created. This process took 70 days to complete. First the major organs were removed by cutting a slit up the left side of the person's body. These organs were the lungs, the liver, the intestines, and the stomach. The brain was taken out by sticking a hook up the nose and pulling out. It was thrown out because they felt that it was not needed. They believed that the heart was the center of intelligence. The eyes were also taken out and replaced with stones to fill in the sockets.

The four major organs along with the whole body were soaked in a salt called natron. This smelled really bad so they added some perfume and spices to make it smell better. Then they were left to dry, about 40 days. When all of the moisture was removed, the corpse and the organs were wrapped in linen. The cloth that was used to wrap the corpse was about 1,230 feet long and it wrapped around the body twenty times. Finally a mask made to look like a human's head was placed on the face and the whole mummy was put in a carved sarcophagus.

The organs on the other hand were wrapped in linen and then put in special containers called canopic jars. These jars had special heads on the top that depicted the god that was the protector of that organ. The liver was put in a jar with the head of a human on it, the lungs were put in a jar with the head of an ape, the intestines were put in a jar with the head of a hawk and the stomach was put in a jar with the head of a jackal.

This process of embalming was very expensive and at first was only done for the kings, whom Egyptians believed became a "god" when he died. Later on it was made more affordable and was done for other Egyptians.

Mummification was done for 3,000 years and during that time millions of mummies were made. This practice ended when many Egyptians became Christians.



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