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One of the most important aspects in Ancient Egypt was that relating to the afterlife, a place where it was essential to present oneself as in life. What better way than mummification to get there?
Life in the afterlife
For the ancient Egyptians, it was essential that the body remained in the best possible condition, in order to ensure the best possible life in the afterlife for the deceased. According to the inhabitants of the Nile, in fact, the soul was composed of several parts and one of these, identified with “Ba” or “Ka” according to the historical period, had absolute necessity that the body of the deceased was kept almost intact.
This belief was widespread since the dawn of this civilization, so much so that there are mummies dating back even to the 33rd century BC. (about 3250 BC); particularity of the first mummies found is the total absence of the classic “bandage”, which will in fact be introduced only later and especially for nobles and pharaohs. This is an indication of how this belief was also developed among the people, in addition to giving us a basis for reconstructing the processes underlying this ancient practice.
The origins of mummification
Thanks to the remains of the Ginger mummy, the oldest ever found, it is in fact possible to reconstruct the evolution of mummification, also going to highlight the fundamental aspects. Although there are no actual bandages, it is however possible to find a very particular feature in the latter too: the presence of a sort of primitive “canopic jars“.
These objects contained organs and some objects of value for the deceased, but over time they acquired a more important and precise function, so much so that they would then be used exclusively for the conservation of the entrails. Another interesting aspect of the Ginger mummy is the presence around it of some boulders, probably placed to discourage jackals and similar, thus ensuring the body to be preserved.
The ritual of the pharaohs
As already said, with the passage of time new and particular embalming techniques were discovered, which, combined with the desire to be preserved forever, being able to fully enjoy Paradise, pushed more and more the wealthy classes to opt for this technique of burial.
However, it was extremely complex and the whole process took 70 days. In these, the body was emptied first of all the bowels and then dried for 40 days in the natron, a particular sodium salt very present in Egypt. The only organ that was left intact was the heart, which, according to the Egyptians, represented the seat of the soul. The deceased was then cleaned with alcohol to remove the bacteria and finally came and was wrapped in the famous linen bandages At the same time, at the same time as this process, the tomb was also prepared, most of the time concluded exactly for the end of the mummification.
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