Thursday, August 09, 2007

What are Mummies?

The Egyptians believed life after death.  Hence they adopted a method of embalming the dead bodies and preserving them in tombs along with the possessions of the dead like clothes food etc, this process of embalming is called mummification. The Egyptians believed that the mummified body was the home for this soul or spirit.  Mummification in ancient Egypt was a very long and expensive process. The embalmed bodies are called mummies. They drained the dead body completely of moisture and retained the dried form so theat it would not decay.  The procedure of embalming is a very long procedure.  This practice was followed in Egypt for  more than 2000 years.  The procedure adopted to embalm varied from century to century.  Usually this was done only for the royal family members.
The process of mummification almost took 70 days and this was carried out by special priests who had detailed knowledge of human body and were experts.  The first step which they did was to remove the vital organs like the brain, liver, lungs, stomach and put them into special jars called 'Canopic Jars'.  The brain was removed by a very critical operation else the face could get disfigured.  The other organs were removed by through a cut that was made in the left side of the abdomen.  The heart was left in place as it was considered the persons center of intelligence. 
The embalmers used 'Natron' which is a type of salt that has drying properties.  The bodies were immersed in Natron until all the mositure is removed. Packets of Natron are place in the insides of the body to ensure the insides are completely dry. They then did some filling to bring the body back to shape. The body was then wrapped with lots of linen, it is in this stage were the relatives and friends of the dead can donate linen for wrapping.  This procedure requires 100s of yards of linen and it took atleast fifteen days to complete wrapping.  Warm resin coating was used at stages of wrapping and wrapping was continued. 
The tomb preparation, decoration and collection of items for the dead are all done well in advance.  Once the wrapping is complete the priests perform some rituals at the tomb entrance and then put the mummy in a coffin and the tomb is sealed.

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