The word mummy comes from the Arabic word “mum” which means bitumen. The use of this substance was highly valued among the ancient Egyptians, as it was essential for the embalming of corpses.
Data on the mummification ritual in Ancient Egypt
Mummification was a very expensive process and was not available to the entire population . When a person died they were taken to the House of Purification and there the priests were responsible for the corpse.
After removing the clothes and washing the body, they deposited the corpse on a stone table. Then they introduced a wire or string through their nose and extracted the brain . After that, they made an incision in the belly and then extracted the viscera from the body (the heart was not removed because they considered this organ to be human emotion ). Afterwards, the corpse was covered with soda for forty days to be completely dehydrated. Mummy
The process continued with washing the thoracic and abdominal cavity and then the whole body was coated with different substances (cumin, balsam, gum arabic, etc.).
On the other hand, the eyes were extracted and the glass paste introduced in the eye sockets. So that the skin would not deteriorate over time, a layer of bitumen was applied all over the body and, finally, a complex bandage procedure was performed. Some mummies were decorated with masks.
After this process, the mummified body was deposited in a sarcophagus and then the priests took it to the necropolis for final burial. In the burial ritual, the priest addressed the deceased saying that he was destined to attain eternal life.
When the civilization of Ancient Egypt was dominated by the Greeks and Romans, the mummification ritual began to decline. The definitive disappearance of this tradition occurred with the expansion of the Christian religion.
Valuable information for science
The study of mummies is not only of archaeological and cultural interest, but also incorporates a clear scientific interest . The DNA samples found in the mummies provided valuable information on a number of issues: how the ancient Egyptians fed, what their physical characteristics were, and which illnesses were the most frequent. On the other hand, science makes it possible to decipher the genetic links that exist with the current peoples of the Mediterranean.
CT scans of the mummified remains are studied by multidisciplinary teams made up of forensic doctors, Egyptologists and archaeologists.