...Egypt’s land for one was, dry and absent of humidity (or arid, one may say), making it easy for a body to be well preserved if it were particularly buried in a sandy spot. Long ago, it was of the norm for Egyptians to merely bury the deceased directly into the ground. But as time went by, people of the rich and of royalty desired for something more….
Dear reader, may you have guessed that the “something more” that the royal and wealthy Egyptians desired for refers to the practice of mummification!!! Yes, mummification will be this post’s main topic. Hmm.. you may ask like, how did mummification come about? What is mummification? What were mummies buried with? Information corresponding to these questions will be stated in this post. If you’d like to find out more, then do read on. ٩꒰๑ ´∇`๑꒱۶
What is mummification? Mummification is a process whereby the skin and flesh of a corpse of either a human or an animal is preserved. There are two types of mummification:
- Natural mummification
- Intentional mummification
The latter is what that was most commonly found done in ancient Egypt.
Fun fact: There were over a million cat mummies found in in Egypt. *mew!*
How did mummification come about? The practice of mummification only kick-started in ancient Egypt during the Old Kingdom (2750 – 2250 B.C.). The Egyptians with the desire for this “something more” and who were wealthy enough, built these bench-lookalike tombs called “Mastabas”.
But these Mastabas weren’t all that great of an idea to be used to store the deceased… As the deceased’s bodies were merely placed in these mastabas and had no sand to help in preserving the bodies like before, they started to rot away within the moist and relatively cool interiors of these mastabas. Family members only discover this upon returning to the mastabas to pay respects to their ancestors. With huge & strong desires to preserve the bodies of their ancestors, the Egyptians developed a procedure called mummification to stop any means of decomposition.
Why did Egyptians have huge desires to preserve the dead? Well, Egyptians believed that one’s body is the "house" for their soul, and believed that the spirit could live on, only if a body was preserved forever.
Egyptians too, believed that a person’s soul comprises of three parts:
- Ka: the vital essence/source that distinguishes a person.
- Ba: the soul or personality of a person.
- Akh: the part that travels to the underworld to receive judgement & to gain entry into the afterlife.
After judgement, the Ka & Ba would return to the body only if one succeeded. All in all, Egyptians made great efforts to make sure that their deceased family members would have a good afterlife because the living believed that they were given the responsibility to help the dead journey well into the afterlife. （・□・；）
What was done in order to give the dead a good afterlife? For one, Egyptians would bury items with the mummified bodies.. such as:
- Everyday items: dishes, makeup, jewellery and furniture. Egyptians believed that the afterlife was similar to life on Earth. Hence, they felt that burying them with their everyday/daily necessities was crucial.
- Jewellery: These were placed in the tombs and on the mommies’ bodies. Egyptians believed that putting beads around the mummies’ necks would restore their breath in the afterlife. From 1550 - 1070 BC, majority of the mummified in the New Kingdom were buried with at least one heart scarab amulet. This amulet represented rebirth and that it had a spell on the underside of it believing to help the decease be judged favourably by the Gods to enter the afterlife.
- Pets & Servants: The deceased's pets were often mummified and buried with them (at times in the same coffin.) Pets who outlive their owners were buried in the courtyards of their owner’s tombs. This was done as one's pets were thought to serve as the one’s good luck charm and companion in the afterlife. At times, servants would also be sacrificed and buried with kings to continue serving them in the afterlife.
- Food: Yes, food. Tonssss of alcohol & food!!! For example, the meat of goats, cows and ducks were mainly placed on offering trays and serving dishes. This was done so that the deceased could continue to feast well in the afterlife. All food were flavoured, dried and mummified to be preserved. And well... This could possibly explain all of the mummified food on the game site Neopets LUUULZ.
Another thing that was done to ensure the dead a good afterlife would be mummifying the bodies of course. Mummifying during the times of ancient Egypt was a very competitive field. Egyptians pitted against one another to get the best of prices, to maintaining organs and ensuring that the body of the deceased looked at its best!
P.s. The process of mummifying a body takes about 70 days to complete. Yeah... 70 days is quite a heck of a long period of time but, well….
If you'd like to read up a description of the mummification process + the burial ritual. Click here: Mummification 101. Claire did a good job at summing it up! :)
Could anybody mummify their deceased family members? Technically, yes - anybody could do so. But mummification was something very limited, for it was very costly to carry out. Only the Pharaohs, people of the royal blood-line and the wealthy were able to afford mummification rituals. But as about 2000 years passed, the process of mummifying a body became less expensive. More and more people were able to afford the procedure and the luxury of mummifying their deceased family members. Hand-in-hand with this, mummification became more of the norm for Egyptians to do.
We shall leave this as it is, but with a question for you dear reader. If you were someone left on the face of this Earth without any family, or anyone to help ensure a good afterlife for you - to be mummified and preserved, and you just end up disintegrating.. Would your soul just simply, vanish? Would you just, cease to exist?
Leave us a comment, perhaps?
It's a wrap! (for this is our very last post haha and yes, pun intended.) Thank you so much for reading. We hope that you've been at least a lil' more enlightened! x
By: Caitlin Loo Elizabeth Gan Lauren Chong