Egyptian Mummification: It’s History, Purpose, and Process

Powerful Essays
Egyptian Mummification: It’s History, Purpose, and Process

The history and tradition of Egypt is one of the most greatly studied and admired of all past world civilizations. The lure of the pyramids and the specter of the sphinx have led many archeologists to dedicate his/her life to unraveling the mysteries of ancient Egyptian culture. Arguably, the most captivating aspect of Egypt’s past is that of mummification. Why did the Egyptians mummify their dead? What beliefs did the Egyptians have regarding the after life? What portion of the Egyptian civilization was mummified? What was the Book of the Dead? This is a mere sampling of the questions that come to my mind when I think of ancient Egyptian culture. I hope to lay forth answers to these questions and many more in the following pages dedicated to the history and purpose behind Egyptian mummification.

Mummification, with its long, storied history, has allowed archeologists to peer into the daily lives and beliefs of ancient Egyptian middle-class and royalty. The practice of mummification by the Egyptians seems to have started sometime before 3100 BC. However, lack of written evidence or significant physical proof from this Predynastic period is available to either confirm or deny this. One of the oldest surviving mummies is Ginger, currently stored at the British Museum. Ginger was buried in a shallow grave and wrapped only in light cloth but due to the hot, dry desert he survived intact to discovery in the late 19th century (Andrews 5). Ginger’s name comes from the color of his hair, fragments of which are still attached to his body. Evidence from his discovery supports the belief that even at this early age the Egyptians believed in the afterlife. Tools and pottery we...

... middle of paper ...

...ould be very thankful to the Egyptian people for leaving us this gift, which paints for us such a clear picture of their legacy.

Works Cited

Aldred, Cyril. The Egyptians. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc., 1984.

Andrews, Carol. Egyptian Mummies. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.

Budge, E.A. Wallis. The Mummy: A Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archaeology.

2nd ed. Cambridge: University Press, 1925.

Casson, Lionel. Ancient Egypt. New York: Time Incorporated, 1965.

Editors of Time-Life Books. Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs. Alexandria: Time-Life

Books, 1992.

El Mahdy, Christine. Mummies: Myth and Magic. New York: Thames and Hudson

Inc., 1989.

Montet, Pierre. Eternal Egypt. New York: The New American Library of World

Literature, Inc., 1964.

Peck, William H. Splendors of Ancient Egypt. Ann Arbor: University Lithoprinters,

Get Access