An ancient country located within the North-eastern Africa, Egypt is a land of mysteries. The origin, architecture and the religion are interesting mysteries the researchers are still not fully conscious of.
What draws the foremost attention to the country are its pyramids. Being the sole remaining monumental structure of the seven ancient wonders of the planet, these pyramids are of great significance to the world and therefore the country. Skilled architects, engineers and workers constructed these pyramids. These pyramids were the tombs for the Pharaohs, where the dead mummified bodies of them were kept securely.
The Mummification Process
The priests which performed the ritual of the mummification wore the mask of the Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the dead. Alongside the rituals and prayers to be performed, the priests also needed to understand about the human anatomy.
First, the tissues of the brain were removed from the body by inserting a hook through the nostrils. As even a touch mistake could easily disfigure the face, this was done very carefully.
Then a cut was made on the left side of the stomach, and also the internal organs were taken out. These organs were then left to dry.
The dried organs like the liver, the intestine, the stomach and lungs were kept in canopic jars, while the heart was kept inside the body because they considered the heart as the center of being. The inside of the body was then rinsed with wine, to make sure it was clean.
The corpse was then covered with natron, a kind of salt with great drying properties for around 2 months. After a month, the body was stuffed with sand and linen to offer it a more human-like shape. Then after the 2nd month, the body was wrapped in linen bandages, carefully covering every inch of the body.
And finally the wrapped body was put within the coffin.
Things Buried Along with the Mummy
The mummies were buried with treasures and belongings the people had thought it might need in its afterlife. For the rich people like the Pharaoh, the coffin included an excessive amount of wealth.
Amulets, like the eye of Horus, were buried along the mummy to guard it from evils after the death. The people used these amulets even in their daily lives. Shabtis were the tiny statuettes placed alongside the dead being. It was believed that they might come to life after being called upon by the dead soul and would serve him in the afterlife.
The Reason Behind Preserving the Dead
The ancient Egyptians believed that the body is the home to the spirit, and therefore the spirit could also be lost if the body is destroyed. So they found how to preserve the bodies for a really long time.
Their idea of the spirit was a bit complicated. According to them, there were three of them. The "ka" was the double of the person which remained within the pyramid and needed the offerings provided to the mummified body. The "ba" was the soul which was liberal to jaunt to and from the tomb. The "akh" was the spirit which had to travel through the ultimate judgement and head to the afterlife.
Seeing the burial practices, it is estimated that the traditional Egyptians started preparing for their death way earlier before it.
Discovery Of The Mummies
Although the dead was usually respected in the past, the Egyptian mummies were used as a form of entertainment when they were first found.
In Europe, the fascination for the Egyptian culture increased in the late 18th and early 19th century. The pyramids and tombs were raided, and the mummified bodies were sold at a low price.
Few mummies served as a piece which provided information, but most of them weren't lucky enough. The mummies were boiled and the oil formed was sold as an ointment. Some of them were unwrapped publically in mummy unwrapping parties. The artifacts were given to the party attendees as a gift.
In 1859, Auguste Marlette founded the ESA (Egyptian Service for Antiquities), to preserve valuable pieces of Egyptian history. After that, the Egyptian government also took steps to stop this desecration of mummies and gradually it came to an end. Since then archeologists have been studying them to research the culture and religion of ancient Egypt.
Some of these mummies like Tutankhamun, Hatshepsut, Ramesses II and Amenhotep I are quite famous. People from all over the world have a keen interest in the pyramids and the mummies. They are a marvel of science and architecture, while also being a rich heritage. And they ought to be preserved.