Mummification in ancient Egypt was a very long and expensive process. From start to finish, it took about seventy days to embalm a body. Since the Egyptians believed that mummification was essential for passage to the afterlife, people were mummified and buried as well as they could possibly afford. High-ranking officials, priests and other nobles who had served the pharaoh and his queen had fairly elaborate burials. Also they used to mummify their pets and sacred animals. The pharaohs, who were believed to become gods when they died, had the most magnificent burials of all. In the case of a royal or noble burial, the embalmers set up workshops near the tomb of the mummy.
The earliest ancient Egyptians buried their dead in small pits in the desert. The heat and dryness of the sand dehydrated the bodies quickly, creating lifelike and natural 'mummies'.
Later, the ancient Egyptians began burying their dead in coffins to protect them from wild animals in the desert. However, they realized that bodies placed in coffins decayed when they were not exposed to the hot, dry sand of the desert.
Over many centuries, the ancient Egyptians developed a method of preserving bodies so they would remain lifelike. The process included embalming the bodies and wrapping them in strips of linen. Today we call this process mummification.
The process of mummification has two stages. First, the embalming of the body . Then, the wrapping and burial of the body.
First, his body is taken to the tent known as 'ibu' or the 'place of purification'. There the embalmers wash his 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 man will need it in the afterlife.
The body is now covered and stuffed with natron which will dry it out. All of the fluids and rags from the embalming process will be saved and buried along with the body.
After forty days the body is washed again with water from the Nile. Then it is covered with oils to help the skin stay elastic.
The dehydrated internal organs are wrapped in linen and returned to the body. The body is stuffed with dry materials such as sawdust, leaves and linen so that it looks lifelike.
In the past, when the internal organs were removed from a body they were placed in hollow canopic jars.
Over many years the embalming practices changed and embalmers began returning internal organs to bodies after the organs had been dried in natron. However, solid wood or stone canopic jars were still buried with the mummy to symbolically protect the internal organs.
The arms and legs are wrapped separately. Between the layers of wrapping, the embalmers place amulets to protect the body in its journey through the underworld.
This is the 'Isis knot' amulet which will protect the body.
This is the 'Plummet' amulet which will keep the person balanced in the next life.
A priest reads spells out loud while the mummy is being wrapped. These spells will help ward off evil spirits and help the deceased make the journey to the afterlife.
The arms and legs are tied together. A papyrus scroll with spells from the Book of the Dead is placed between the wrapped hands.
More linen strips are wrapped around the body. At every layer, the bandages are painted with liquid resin that helps to glue the bandages together
A cloth is wrapped around the body and a picture of the god Osiris is painted on its surface.
Finally, a large cloth is wrapped around the entire mummy. It is attached with strips of linen that run from the top to the bottom of the mummy, and around its middle.
A board of painted wood is placed on top of the mummy before the mummy is lowered into its coffin. The first coffin is then put inside a second coffin.
The funeral is held for the deceased and his family mourns his death. A ritual called the 'Opening of the Mouth' is performed, allowing the deceased to eat and drink again.
Finally, the body and its coffins are placed inside a large stone sarcophagus in the tomb. Furniture, clothing, valuable objects, food and drink are arranged in the tomb for the deceased.
The mummy and its coffin
Painted coffins from ancient Egypt often show the deceased person wearing a large wig. People wore wigs in real life to special events and on important occasions.This ancient Egyptian wig is made of human hair attached to a net.
Ancient Egyptian coffins often showed the deceased person wearing fine jewellery.
Collars like the one painted on this coffin were popular among wealthy and important people in ancient Egypt. They were made up of multiple rows of beads and charms.
The Four Sons of Horus
After about 1000 B.C., the internal organs were often put back into the body after being dried. When this happened, the ancient Egyptians placed solid or empty canopic jars in the person's tomb.
The lids of canopic jars represented gods called the 'four sons of Horus'. These gods protected the internal organs. Hapy was the baboon-headed god who protected the lungs.
The Four Sons of Horus were traditionally the guardians of the internal organs of the deceased. Each was associated with a particular organ, and also with a different cardinal point on the compass.
Imsety the human-headed god looks after the liver
Hapy the baboon-headed god looks after the lungs
Duamutef the jackal-headed god looks after the stomach
Qebehsenuef the falcon-headed god looks after the intestines
Ancient Egyptian mummies were wrapped in hundreds of yards of linen strips.
This papyrus is a receipt for natron and linen. It states that the mummy will be delivered to the family at the end of seventy-two days.
The ancient Egyptians used headrests in this shape in their daily lives. This amulet made sure that the person's head would be supported forever. This headrest amulet is only about two centimetres tall.
The heart was especially important to the ancient Egyptians because they believed that it was the centre of feeling and intelligence.
Isis Knot amulet
The amulet is a symbol of protection associated with the goddess Isis.
The ancient Egyptians believed that objects buried with them could be used and enjoyed in the next life. Thus, people were buried with jewellery and fine clothes.
Some of the rings, bracelets and necklaces buried with people had been worn during their lifetimes and some were created just for their burials.
The Challenge ‘The Underworld'
The ancient Egyptians believed that before a person could get to the afterlife, that they had to pass through the underworld. The underworld was a place that was full of terrifying monsters and dangerous animals. A person would need magic to successfully overcome these threats.
The ancient Egyptians chose spells to take with them on their journey. The spells were chosen from a group of spells known as the Book of the Dead. The spells were then written on a papyrus scroll which was buried with them in their tombs.
spell for turning into a swallow
Now you have been through the dangers of the underworld there is still one obstacle between you and paradise in the afterlife.
The weighing of the heart
Your heart will be weighed against a feather to see if it is truthful and good. If you pass this test, you will in the afterlife. If you fail, your heart will be gobbled up by a monster called Ammit.
The famous jackal headed denizen of the underworld
The Ancient Egyptians held a great reverence for the Jackal headed god Anubis, who oversaw the embalming and mummification process as well as escorting the deceased through the procedures for entering the underworld. When the person arrived for judgment, they would first declare their purity before an assembly of gods including Osiris. The Ibis headed god Thoth was on hand to record the result of the judgment.
Pet monkeys and cats are often depicted on the walls of tombs, seated beneath the chair of their owner. These paintings often had magical properties, ensuring that these pets could join their masters after death. In the pictures above, care has been taken to ensure that the pets, like their owners, would have abundant food in the afterworld. The cat has a large bowl provided while the monkey has its favorite fruits. The cat also has a wooden chair leg to scratch (the left paw is actually in the process of scratching!).
Two women, Isitemkheb D and Ankhshepenwepet had pet gazelles (or in the case of Isitemkheb D an ibex?) buried with them. The mummy to the right is a gazelle from the Cairo Museum collection.
Some pets were given quite elaborate burials by their grieving owners. The limestone sarcophagus below shows a cat receiving offerings of food and flowers. It was commisioned by the Royal Son and Chief Artificer, Tithmose, for his pet cat (Mit Rahina, XVIIIth dynasty or later). The hieroglyphic texts along the sides are the sameAs those used for humans.
Although it is possible that some pets were killed when an owner died, it is perhaps more likely that a pet was placed in the tomb of its owner after a natural death. The X-rays of these pet mummies may help to clarify this issue by providing evidence as to the manner of death.
Materials used in mummification. Frankincense is an aromatic tree sap or gum. When melted it becomes a thick, gluey substance that can be used like tar. Natron is a mineral salt which is used to dehydrate a body covered in it.
Tutankhamen's tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter. Over the next several years, Carter's expedition carefully uncovered the riches within, including the gold mask above. A number of mysterious deaths that followed the opening of the tomb set off wild rumors of a mummy's curse.
Seti I is considered to be one of the greatest of pharaohs and warriors, and was also the father of another very notable pharaoh, Rameses II (or Rameses the Great). Seti ruled in the 19th Dynasty, several generations after Tutankhamen. Surviving accounts of Seti's exploits tell us that he was highly successful at protecting Egypt from such invaders as the marauding armies of neighboring Libya. Seti was also known to have extended his powers beyond the boundaries of Egypt as far east as modern-day Syria.
Rameses II the Great
Rameses the Great ruled over Egypt from 1279-1212 BC, an incredible 67 years. Rameses was legendary in many respects. At a time when most people lived only a few decades, Rameses was about 90 years old when he died. He was a tall man about six feet in height, when the average Egyptian was a little over five feet tall. Rameses had many wives in his lifetime and is believed to have fathered over 100 children.
T.N.P & Shery.K