Mummification Essay

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Research Task -
Ancient Egypt – Mummification

Prior to about 3400 BC, all Egyptians were buried in shallow pit graves, whether rich or poor, royal or common. The heat and dryness of the sand dehydrated the bodies quickly, creating lifelike and natural 'mummies'. Later however, as prosperity and the advance in building techniques improved, more elaborate tombs for those of high social status were constructed. Yet at the same time, these brick lined underground burial chambers no longer provided the conditions which led to natural mummification in the older pit graves causing the body to decay. Now however, mummification had been established in the religious belief system so that the deceased's ka, or spirit, could return to and recognize the body, re-enter it, and thus gain spiritual sustenance and if the body was decayed or unrecognisable, then the ka would go hungry and the afterlife of the deceased would be jeopardised. Mummification was therefore dedicated to the prevention of decay. Over many centuries, the ancient Egyptians developed a method of preserving bodies so they would remain lifelike. The mummification process consisted of two main stages, first embalming the bodies and after wrapping them in strips of linen. Embalming the body

First, the body is taken to the tent known as 'ibu' or the 'place of purification'. There the embalmers wash the body with good-smelling palm wine and rinse it with water from the Nile. One of the embalmer's men makes a cut in the left side of the body and removes many of the internal organs. It is important to remove these because they are the first part of the body to decompose. The liver, lungs, stomach and intestines are washed and packed in natron which will dry them out. The heart is not taken out of the body because it is the centre of intelligence and feeling and the deceased will need it in the afterlife. A long hook is used to smash the brain and pull it out through the nose. The body is then covered and...
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