The Ancient Art of Preserving the Body of the Dead, Mummification
Everyone has something that he or she might need to protect and preserve for as long as they can. For this reason, mankind has invented several ways of protecting different things. From tin cans to plastic boxes, we have different kind of food packaging available today. Businesses such as Contract Warehouse provide fulfillment packaging services and provide high end protection for various goods. It is an interesting fact that preservation and protection of valuable things is not a modern concept.
Even the most ancient of civilizations used to protect their precious things that they wanted to last forever. Talking about the most ancient civilization, the Egyptian civilization, the most precious of all things were the Pharaohs. The process used to preserve their bodies after death is called mummification.
In general, mummification is not specific to any particular region or human being. A mummy is any corpse or body whose skin and organs have been preserved. This could either be intentional or incidental preservation. In case of incidental mummification, factors such as extreme cold weather or the lack of air can act as preservatives.
Typically, mummification in Egypt was intentional and they used chemicals for this purpose. Yet, long before this, Egyptians used a natural process of mummification. They used to bury their dead in dry desert sand, where the heat and less humid environment naturally preserved the body. Later, they learned chemical mummification to protect the bodies from animals in the desert.
For Egyptians, mummification soon became a part of their religion and mythical life. It was assumed that a person might need their body in the afterworld. Therefore, the body along with several worldly possessions was preserved and kept in a casket. It is also said that the tetragonal shape of pyramids was supposed to preserve the body for a longer time.
The mummification was based on several processes. Ancient murals and hieroglyphs on the pyramids’ walls give us quite a detailed account of these processes. The first process which is called embalming was carried out at IBU, the tent of purification. This usually took 70 days to complete. The body was washed with Natron, which is a salt that dehydrates the body. Once cleansed, the body was taken to Wabet where the internal organs were removed through incisions.
After removing the organs, the internal space was cleansed and stuffed temporarily. The organs were also treated with Natron and later had to go through all the mummification processes as well. In mummies found from the Middle Kingdom and later dynasties, the brain was also removed and preserved. Then the dry Natron was applied inside and outside of the body.
Forty days after the application of Natron, the body became completely dehydrated so that decaying would not occur. It was then bathed in perfume, decorated and wrapped in linen. The purpose of linen was to protect the body from breakage. The body and organs along with valuable possessions were usually placed in the pyramids. The pharaohs had their pyramids built before their own eyes while their servants were often buried in separate chambers of the same pyramids.