Preparing a body for the afterlife in ancient egypt was a very long and complicated process. The Egyptians believed that preserving the body in death was important to keep their soul alive. The Embalmers were priests who were trained in the mummification process. Mummification was a ritual, so the priests who participated were trained to perform the process with both surgical and ritual precision. The embalmers were required to work and labor outside of the town in a workshop called a Wabet or a clean place.
The head priest that supervised the ritual wore a terra-cotta mask in the form of Anubis. Anubis was the chosen god for surgeons, and for priests performing the mummification process. By wearing the mask of Anubis it symbolized Anubis watching over the mummification process to guide the priests in the ritual. It was important that the priest did not make any unnecessary cuts in the body, because if the spirit could not recognize the body it could be doomed to wonder across the Earth and possibly haunt the priest responsible.
The first step in the process was to make a cut in the abdomen, below the ribs, on the left side of the body. This first incision was done with a special flint knife, and all other cutting was done with an ordinary metal blade. They had to cut into the body so that they could take out special organs. Once the organs were removed they were placed in canopic jars, which were carved out of alabaster and inscribed with spells that would one day enable the organs to rejoin the body when it was resurrected. The organs that were placed in the jars include: stomach, lungs, intestines, and liver. Once inside the canopic jars each organ was protected by the one of sons of Horus whose head graced the lid.
Next the brain would be extracted through the nose and then thrown away. Resin was then poured through the nose and into the skull with the use of a funnel, to keep the head from collapsing. The heart was left in place because later in the underworld Anubis would weigh the heart and guide the soul through the underworld. During the embalming process every part of the body was saved and either placed in the tomb with the body or given to the relatives of the deceased. Then, the body and organs were preserved with spices and dried out with natron salt. The spices that were used in the preservation process made the body look brown and leathery.
The entire preservation process took about 70 days. After the process was complete, the body was wrapped in linen. Death masks were placed on the head of the mummy around the bandages to be used as a replacement head incase something happened to the real skull. Special amulets were placed within the wrapping of the mummy to protect it. Finally, a mummy tag, similar to our toe tags, was placed around the mummy's neck to help identify it for burial.
1. Why did the Egyptians mummify their dead?
2. Who in ancient Egypt would most likely be mummified?
3. Describe how the mummification process work