Introduction to Mummification
Blessed with a long, rich history as well as countless marvels and wonders, the Land of the Pharaohs always reveals bewildering mysteries. Huge volumes of research and studies have been dedicated to the exploration of the mysterious process of mummification the Ancient Egyptians mastered. Examining the dried human remains, along with the distinct architecture, religious beliefs, as well as the funerary arts and crafts, people can actually draw a vivid image for the Ancient Egyptian civilization before their eyes.
Depending on the realization that every thing after death came to life again, the Ancient Egyptians hold the belief that there is a life after death: they realized the sun, after the dusk, rose again and the Nile after dryness, flooded again. Based on these beliefs, they held to the idea that a new life began after a person died, a supposition that made the idea of mummification of dead bodies inevitable. Notably, mummification symbolizes the fear of the Ancient Egyptians had of death and answers their eager desire for immortality. Such elaborate burial practices of Ancient Egyptians suggest that the Egyptians began early to make plans for their death because of their great love of life.
A mummy is the preserved creature's body "animal or human", which may be preserved naturally or by artificial means. The oldest Egyptians buried their dead in small pits with some offerings into the hot, dry desert, but the heat soon dehydrated the corpse. Later on, the Egyptians started fashioning coffins for the deceased. However, the body decayed as it was protected from the desert heat coffins. This made the Egyptians get somewhat troubled, as they believed that without a body, the deceased could not resurrect again.
Ancient Egyptians believed that there were six important aspects that made up a human being: the physical body, shadow, name, Ka (spirit), Ba (personality), and the Akh (immortality). Each one of these elements played an important role in the well being of an individual and therefore was necessary to achieve rebirth into the afterlife. Without a physical body, there was no shadow, no name, no Ka, Ba, or Akh. By mummification, the Egyptians believed they were assuring themselves a successful rebirth into the afterlife. That is, mummification was used to preserve the body for the purpose of keeping the soul, or “ka”, intact for the journey through the afterlife.
Importantly mummification was not the same as dissection. The organs were removed for safe keeping not for further examination. The priests who removed the organs were able to learn much about the placement of the organs, but could not develop understanding of each their functions. The Egyptians believed that the heart controlled the body (which of course is wrong as it is the brain, but since they were unable to dissect living creatures, they could not discover this).
id: 2526Back to Article : Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt and Their Development