Mummification was mainly done to wealthy people as poorer people could not afford the process.
The chief embalmer was a priest wearing a mask of Anubis. Anubis was the jackal headed god of the dead. He was closely associated with mummification and embalming, hence priests wore a mask of Anubis.
This is the step-by-step process* of how mummification took place:
- Insert a hook through a hole near the nose and pull out part of the brain
- Make a cut on the left side of the body near the tummy
- Remove all internal organs
- Let the internal organs dry
- Place the lungs, intestines, stomach and liver inside canopic jars
- Place the heart back inside the body
- Rinse inside of body with wine and spices
- Cover the corpse with natron (salt) for 70 days
- After 40 days stuff the body with linen or sand to give it a more human shape
- After the 70 days wrap the body from head to toe in bandages
- Place in a sarcophagus (a type of box like a coffin)
If the person had been a Pharaoh, he would be placed inside his special burial chamber with lots of treasure!
*To see a more detailed explanation of the mummification process, see another My Learning resource: Make me a mummy! Embalming tips
To learn about an Egyptian tale of how mummification started, see Osiris and Isis: The Origin of Mummification
Also look on the British Museum's Ancient Egypt website (see Related Links at the bottom of the page) for an illustrated guide to the mummification process.