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Give A Detailed Account Of Mummification In Egypt. What Was It Used For And How Was It Practiced? What Was Its Mythological Significance?

1357 words - 6 pages

Death and the afterlife, as in any early civilization, played a hugely significant role in Egyptian culture. However it has proven to be the defining factor of Egyptian culture thanks to the fact that, because the mummies, tombs and pyramids have been so well preserved, there has been an incredible amount of archeological evidence to explore. This has led many to believe that the Egyptians were in fact obsessed with death. Not so, the fact that all that remains of their culture is preserved through burial is just testament to the skills of the Egyptian people and the mummification process.The Egyptians believed that mummification was essential to the safe passage from the living to the ...view middle of the document...

However, it is important to point out that these people were not prematurely killed in a sacrificial act, they were merely buried nearby once they themselves died.Because of its importance as one of the central spiritual beliefs of the Egyptians, this was not a procedure exclusively available to the rich. Obviously the more elaborate burials were reserved for royalty and their families, priests, and other high-ranking officials, but it was made sure that even the lowliest peasant could afford some kind of basic mummification.'as prosperity and the advance in building techniques improved, more elaborate tombs for those of high social status were constructed.'In the predynastic period where bodies were loosely wrapped in linen and tightly placed in a shallow grave in the sand. This produced a natural form of mummification as the arid desert conditions provided perfect conditions for mummification. However this paper will discuss in detail the intentional mummifications of a King/Queen, a momentous occasion in Egyptian culture.The actual mummification process took approximately seventy days, long enough for the body to be completely dried of all its fluids so that it would not decay once buried. The process of drying is essential to both intentional and unintentional mummifications. To begin with the body of the deceased was ritually cleansed and purified in a dilute solution of natron (a naturally occurring salt like preservative) to begin the journey into the afterlife. The next stop involved removing the inner organs, such as the liver, intestines, lungs, and stomach. These were all surgically removed, wrapped in linen strips and placed in canopic jars, again in a solution of natron to preserve them. Ironically the Egyptions believed that the brain had no real function and so it was removed and thrown away. However the role of said organ has become prominent by way of its gruesome removal. A metal hook was inserted up the nose, rotated and then used to scrape small pieces of brain out until the skull was empty. This was a very intricate and difficult procedure as a small mistake could result in severe facial mutilation. Interestingly the heart was left untouched. They believed that the heart was where intelligence, emotion and the nature of the person is stored. It carried strong mythological significance as the deceased would need it in the afterlife as it was to be weighed and in turn judged by Osiris.After the removal of the internal organs the body cavity was then stuffed with a dry form of natron to further enhance the drying process. At this point in the procedure, the deceased was placed on a table that was elevated at one end to allow moisture to drip away from the body. The...

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