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Exploration of Egyptian Mummies

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Exploration of Egyptian Mummies

Many ancient civilizations believed in life after death. We identify

mumification with ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians - during the

time of the dynasties - believed that mummification would guarantee

the soul passage into the next life.

Some believed that the dead lived on in the tomb. While others thought

of the dead as having gone to a blessed afterworld in some far-distant

place. That being the case they provided for both worlds. In no other

civilization have such elaborate preparations for the afterlife been

made in the preservation of the dead.

In addition to his ba (body) and his ka (spirit guide) - an Egyptian

had a soul, which flew away at death. Mant cults believed that the

soul was a human-headed bird with the face of the deceased. During

life the soul had resided within the body - probably in the belly or

in the heart--but after death it flew freely about the world, taking

refuge in the tomb at night, when evil spirits might be about. But in

order to find the right tomb, it was necessary that the soul be able

to recognize the body from which it had come. Hence the body of the

deceased was preserved in the best possible way. It was mummified.

The word 'mummy' is not of Egyptian origin, but is derived from the

Arabic 'mumiyah,' which means 'body preserved by wax or bitumen'; This

term was used because of an Arab misconception of the methods used by

the Egyptians in preserving their dead.

The actual process of embalming as practiced in ancient Egypt was

governed by definite religious ritual. A period of seventy days was

required for the preparation of the mummy, and each step in the

procedure was co-ordinated with relevant priestly ceremonies.

The embalmers' shop might be a fixed place, as in the case of those

connected with the larger temples. Often, however, it was a movable

tent - which could be set up near the home of the deceased.

Removal of those parts most subject to putrefaction was the initial
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