Ancient Egypt: Death and the Afterlife
Make me a mummy! Embalming tips
The Egyptians believed that after death they would live on in the afterlife. As well as needing all their daily items for the next life, they also needed their bodies. They therefore had their bodies preserved or mummified.
It took 70 days to fully prepare a body for burial, although if a person was poor they would be mummified in less than a week.
Ten embalming tips!
- The embalmers first had to remove the moist parts of body which would rot. The brain was removed through the nostrils with a hook and thrown away because it was not believed to be important
- The internal organs were removed through a cut in the left side of the body. The lungs, liver, stomach and intestines were mummified separately and placed in special containers called canopic jars
- The heart was left in the mummy in order to be weighed against the 'Feather of Truth and Justice' in the afterlife. If the deceased had done bad things the heart would be heavy and they would be devoured. If the heart weighed the same as the feather the deceased would enter the afterlife
- The body was covered in a salt called natron for 40 days to dissolve body fats and absorb the moisture
- Linen was used to pad out the cavities and the body was treated with herbs, oils and resin
- The body was given make-up, jewellery and a wig. Any parts of the body that were missing or damaged would be replaced with wooden parts to symbolise a complete body in the afterlife
- Protective amulets were placed on the body like the scarab amulet and the wedjat eye amulet
- The embalmers then wrapped the body in linen bandages; this took 15 days while spells and rituals were performed to ensure safe passage to the afterlife. The body was fitted with a mask and placed in a coffin or series of coffins
- The 'Opening of the Mouth' ceremony took place just before burial. The priest would touch the face of the coffin with special instruments to restore speech, sight and hearing for the afterlife
- The coffin was then placed in the tomb surrounded by possessions and small model workers called shabtis who would work for the dead in the afterlife.