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Mummification was a process undertaken by Ancient Egyptians to preserve the bodies of their loved ones after death. Egyptians believed that the body was the home of the soul, and if their bodies decayed, the spirits of their loved ones could be lost; thus, they devised a lengthy, complex process of mummifying dead bodies.
How was a Mummy Made?
The mummification process consists of two main stages: embalming and wrapping. During the embalming stage, the Egyptians would bring the dead body into a tent called an ibu, wash it with palm wine, and rinse it with water from the Nile River.Then, they would remove internal organs like the intestines from the body, which are usually the first part of the body to decompose. The brain would be pulled out of the body through the nose using a large hook. The Egyptians left the heart inside the body, however, as they regarded it to be the center of intelligence and a spiritual guide for the person in the afterlife.
After removing internal organs, the body would be stuffed with a mineral salt called natron to dry it out; after forty days, the body would be washed again with water from the Nile and oils to keep the skin supple. The final step in embalming was to return the now-dehydrated organs back to the body and to stuff the body with dry powders like sawdust to make it look more lifelike.
Wrapping the Body
When the embalming process was complete, the wrapping of the body with linens began. The wrapping process started with the head, neck, fingers, and toes, and then progressed in layers to the other body parts. Resin was added between each layer of bandages to help them stick together, and religious amulets were added as well to protect the body and spirit during the journey to the underworld. After the body was fully wrapped many times, it was placed in multiple coffins and finally laid to rest in a stone sarcophagus inside its tomb. The whole process spanned about seventy days.
Preservation for Centuries
The mummification process allowed for the preservation of lost loved ones for many years, as well as gave the living a sense of peace that their friend or relative was on the way to a better place. Today, we can examine ancient sarcophagi and try to further understand the lives of ancient Egyptians.