Mummification Process in Ancient Egypt
Mummification was reserved for the richest and most powerful in Egyptian society. The process was long and expensive. There were three main people who took part in this process; the scribe, the cutter, and the embalmer.
It was the scribes role to oversee the cutting of the body. The incision was made by the cutter. This procedure was considered unclean, which limited the cutters position in society. The embalmer was a class of priest which would then prepare remove the internal organs and prepare the body.
The mummification would take place in a workshop often near the site of the tomb. The process of mummification would last often over two months.
The body would be stripped and placed on a board. The brain was extracted though the nose. The empty brain cavity would be later filled with resin or a combination of linen and resin. The chest would be cut open and the main organs would be removed with exception of the heart. The organs, after being removed, would be stored in Canopic jars with a drying agent. These jars were normally in a set of four, representing the four sons of Horus. These organs may also be wrapped in four packages and placed back in the abdominal cavity or be wrapped in one package and placed on the mummie's legs. Slightly different procedures would be used depending on the time period in Egyptian history.
The body cavity would be washed and packed with natron, a natural occurring drying agent in Egypt. The body would dry for up to 40 days. After the body is dried, it is sewn back together and the cut is sealed with wax or metal. At times, the body may be filled with linens, saw dust, salt, or ash to keep the body firm. Their eye sockets would be filled with linen or fake eyeballs depending on the time. The body would be cleaned and wrapped in a very thick layer of linen. When this was completed, the body was ready to be transported to the tomb prepared for it.
Before the body is laid to rest, a burial mast would be placed over the mummified body. The most famous burial mask was found the in tomb of King Tut (shown on the left). The body would then be placed into a sarcophagus, or type of coffin to protect the body. The more wealthy and powerful they were, the more elaborately decorated these were. There also may have been several layers of caskets into which the body would be placed.