Nekhebet.com - Wonders of Ancient and Modern Egypt

Play the board
game of wonders,
civilizations
and conquest!


7 Wonders
7 Wonders



Other Bestselling
Egyptian Books



Mystery of the Mummy

Ancient Egyptian MummiesAncient Egyptian mummies have long sparked our imaginations, starring in countless horror films and novels. But what are they? How were they made? Why were they made? That's the mystery of the mummy.

The Egyptian mummification process is basically a means of preserving a dead body. Without preservation, a body will decompose, leaving only the bones. The Egyptian mummification process therefore prevents a body from decomposing, allowing the deceased to resemble what he looked like when he was still alive.

To the ancient Egyptians, a person is composed of 6 different parts: his body, ba (personality or character), ka (spirit of life), akh (immortal soul), as well as his name and his shadow. A person is not whole if he is missing any of these parts.

The ancient Egyptians believed in the afterlife. They believed that when a person died, he continued living in another plane of life in the underworld. Since he is still considered to be "alive", all 6 parts of that person should be intact for him to live properly. Hence the need for preservation of the body, and the creation of the ancient Egyptian mummies.

The Final Judgment

The picture above depicts the Final Judgment. It describes what happens after a person physically dies. The top row shows the recently deceased describing his deeds to a panel of judges. He is then led to the scales of balance by Anubis, the jackal-headed god of mummification and the afterlife. Here, his heart, which contains all the evil that he has committed, is weighed against the feather of Ma'at, goddess of truth and justice.

Thoth, the ibis-headed god of wisdom, records the outcome. If the heart is heavier, the deceased is judged too evil and undeserving of a place in the afterlife. The heart will then be devoured by Ammit, the god with the head of a crocodile and the body of a hippopotamus.

If the feather of Ma'at is heavier, the person is deemed worthy, and is taken by Horus, the falcon-headed god, to the afterlife and the underworld, ruled by Osiris.

Canopic jars to store internal organsThe details of the Egyptian mummification process has been lost to time. Most of what we know today about the mummification process comes from the writings of Herodotus, the Greek traveler.

From what we know, creating the ancient Egyptian mummies is a complicated process. Herodotus' writings indicate that the entire process takes 70 days, from the time of death till the mummy is buried.

Firstly, the internal organs are removed. All organs are removed except for the heart, which the ancient Egyptians believed to be the center of a person's being.

Tutankhamun's internal organsTo remove the organs from the abdominal cavity (such as the lungs, stomach, liver and intestines), a small cut is made in the left abdomen, and the organs removed from there. The organs are then cleansed and stored in 4 canopic jars, representing the Four Sons of Horus. These jars, shown on the page to the left, will be buried together with the mummy.

The brain is also removed. A hooked instrument is inserted into the skull via the nose. The hook is then used to pull out the brain in small pieces.

The next step in the Egyptian mummification process is to dry the body. If there is any water remaining in the body, bacteria will grow and cause the body to decompose.

Want to know more about Egyptian mummies? Try this book from Amazon:

Egyptian Mummies: Revised Edition (British Museum Paperbacks)Egyptian Mummies: Revised Edition (British Museum Paperbacks)

Why did the Egyptians try to preserve their dead for eternity? How did they succeed? Carol Andrews answers these questions in a fully illustrated survey of the techniques of mummification, the religious beliefs that lay behind the practice, and the grave goods that accompanied them.

Egyptian Mummification Process - Drying the mummy with natronThe drying agent is natron, a mixture of salts found along the Nile valley. By covering the body with natron for the majority of the 70 days, it will be completely dried.

After the natron is removed, the body is then wrapped using linen and resin. Hundreds of yards of linen are used, and usually covered with holy inscriptions. The finished mummy is then buried in his tomb together with his possessions.

Egyptologists have long wondered if this process as described by Herodotus could really create the ancient Egyptian mummies. In 1994, a team of scientists at the University of Maryland, USA, closely followed the Egyptian mummification process and successfully created a mummy that was free of bacteria and decay. Thus the mystery of the mummy is finally solved.

BackNext



Share |

Copyright © 2004-2013 Nekhebet All rights reserved  Sitemap |


Try these computer
games for free!


Eternal Night: Realm of Souls
Eternal Night:
Realm of Souls


Settlement: Colossus
Timebuilders:
Pyramid Rising