Thursday, April 1, 2010

Secret of Mummies

The word mummy derived from early spectators who presumed that mummies were covered with bitumen, which meant in Persian moumia and therefore took the modern name mummy. Whether it’s been preserved naturally or deliberately, all mummies must survive the duration of time. Gaining most of its fame from Egypt, mummies also exist in many other ancient cultures and countries. Countries such as China revealed the Cherchen mummies, which were preserved almost perfectly. Another place, such as South America, revealed three children from the Incas who were relics of a sacrificial ritual and were found frozen atop Argentina’s Mount Llullaillaco, which is about 22,000 feet high.  Although mummification existed in other cultures, eternal life was the main focus of all Ancient Egyptians, which meant preserving the body forever.

Mummification- How mummies were made
The first attempt to preserve the dead is recorded as early as 3000 BC. After the death of an Egyptian, the embalmers where called by family members and the body was taken to the ibu, “the tent of purification.” the body would go through a process that lasted seventy days, no longer. Once brought to the ibu, the carcass was cleaned with water containing the purifying agent natron. This process represented the rebirth of the deceased.

After being washed and cleansed, the carcass was taken to the wabet, the “palace of embalming.”According to Herodotus, a large incision was made on the left side of the abdomen. This incision, which was cut with a flint knife, was used for removing vital organs such as the intestines, liver, lungs and stomach.  

After the body had been cleansed and the organs removed, the body is dried. For this large amounts of natron salt packed around the body until the 70th day, when the body was desiccated. After being dried in the bed of natron salt, the body is then washed and all traces of the salt removed.
The cadaver is then taken to per nefer, “the house of beauty,” where it is stuffed and shaped back to its normal size. Many perfumes and oils were rubbed on the body and the open wounds were filled and covered with wax. Over the wax a metal plate decorated with symbols of protection sealed the wounds. After the anointing was completed, molten resin was added to cover the body. Both men and women would be colored with ochre. The men would be colored red and the women yellow. 
Colored and stuffed, it’s was then ready to be wrapped. The wrapping process lasted fifteen to thirteen days. Special fine cloth with spells written upon them were used. Most of the time, sheets of linen were used as the main wrapping material. This process was done until the body was protected from head to foot in linen. After being covered, the body was covered with a death mask made of papyrus or linen and reinforced with plaster. Royal mummies, such as Tutankhamun’s, were made of gold and held precious and semiprecious stones that were inlaid. The mummy was then packaged and ready for the afterlife and was placed into its coffins and laid to rest in its tomb. 
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