Teasing out the key recipes for mummification in historic Egypt

Illustration of an embalming scene in an underground chamber.

Enlarge / Illustration of an embalming scene in an underground chamber. (credit score: Nikola Nevenov)

Most of what we learn about historic Egyptian mummification strategies comes from a couple of historic texts. Along with a textual content referred to as The Ritual of Embalming, Greek historian Herodotus mentions using natron to dehydrate the physique in his Histories. However there are only a few particulars in regards to the particular spices, oils, resins, and different elements used. Luckily, science helps fill within the gaps. A crew of researchers used molecular evaluation to establish a number of fundamental elements utilized in mummification, in keeping with a brand new paper revealed within the journal Nature.

Egyptian embalming is assumed to have began within the Predynastic Interval and even earlier, when folks observed that the arid warmth of the sand tended to dry and protect our bodies buried within the desert. Finally, the concept of preserving the physique after dying labored its means into Egyptian spiritual beliefs. When folks started to bury the lifeless in rock tombs, away from the desiccating sand, they used chemical compounds like natron salt and plant-based resins for embalming.

The process usually started by laying the corpse on a desk, eradicating the interior organs—aside from the center. Per Herodotus, “They first draw out a part of the mind by means of the nostrils with an iron hook, and inject sure medicine into the remaining” to liquefy the remaining mind matter.

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