Watch the video below, it's catchy and a great introduction to how mummification happened!
A step by step guide to Mummification!
There are many different ways I have found for how Ancient Egyptians mummified people, and it would seem that some historians disagree with each other. However, other historians believe that Ancient Egyptians changed the way they mummified people over time. The following steps have been put together based on different opinions, but largely of that from The British Museum website.
First, the body is taken to a tent known as Ibu'. There the embalmers wash the body with sweet smelling wine and rinse it with water from the River Nile.
What happens next?
The 'Cutter' then makes a cut in the left side of the body and removes many of the internal organs. It was considered important to remove these because they are the first part of the body to decompose. The intestines, stomach, liver and lungs are washed and packed in natron which will dry them out. The heart is not taken out of the body because it is the centre of intelligence and feeling, and the person will need it in the afterlife. A long hook is used to smash the brain and pull it out through the nose.
2. Natron salt
The body is now covered and filled with natron which will dry it out. All of the fluids, and rags from the embalming process will be buried along with the body.
3. Another wash?
Yes! Another wash, cleanliness was very important, it seems a person being mummified was washed more times than you! After forty nights the body is washed once more with water from the River Nile, then is is covered with certain oils to help the skin stay elastic.
The dehydrated (dried out) internal organs are wrapped in linen then returned to the body. The body is covered again in good smelling oils, and then it is ready to be wrapped in linen.
5. Canopic Jars
_In the past, when the internal organs were removed from a body they were placed in canopic jars.
Over many years the embalming practices changed and embalmers started to return internal organs to bodies after the organs had been dried in
natron. However, solid wood or stone canopic jars were still buried
with the mummy to symbolically protect the internal organs.
6. Wrapping the mummy
First the head and neck are wrapped in linen, and the fingers and toes are wrapped individually. The arms and legs are wrapped separately. Between the layers of wrapping, the embalmers place amulets to protect the body in its journey through the underworld.
This is the 'Plummet' amulet which will keep the person balanced in the next life.
This is the 'Isis knot' amulet which will protect the body.
7. Spells are cast
_A high priest would then read spells out loud whilst the mummy is being wrapped. These spells were thought to help ward off evil spirits and help the deceased make the journey to the afterlife.
8. Book of the Dead
_The arms and legs are tied together. A papyrus scroll with spells from the Book of the Dead is placed between the wrapped hands.
More linen strips are wrapped around the body. At every layer, the bandages are painted with liquid resin that helps to glue the bandages together. A cloth is then wrapped around the body and a picture of the god Osiris is painted on its surface.
9. Nearly there!
_A large cloth was then wrapped around the entire mummy. It was then attached with strips of linen that ran from the top to the bottom of the mummy, and around its middle. A board of painted wood was placed on top of the mummy before the mummy is lowered into its coffin. The first coffin is then put inside a second coffin.
The picture painted on the cloth, was always of Osiris.
This is what a mummy would look like when the process was completed!