School Link
Before we visit
During our visit
The Myth of Osirus
Methods of Burial
Gods, Religion & the Afterlife
After our visit
School Link - Mummification

Historical interpretation

3 Pupils should be taught to recognise that the past is represented and interpreted in different ways, and to give reasons for this.


On the death of an Egyptian, those who could afford the process had their bodies handed over to the embalmers. The embalmers camps were located out in the dry dessert and the dessert is the domain for the Jackal. The Jackal god Anubis was responsible for the mummification of the body and a priest would rein act the rites of mummification assisted with other embalmers. An incision was made on the left hand side of the body and from this incision the liver, kidneys, stomach and spleen could be removed. The heart was sometimes removed and mummified and then replaced inside the body once the body itself had been mummified.

It was believed until recently that the brain was removed through the nose with a hook, but an American Egyptologist Professor Briar conducted an experiment to answer the question of how the Egyptians mummified a body. During the experiment the hook was ruled out because pulling a large organ such as a brain through a broken nasal cavity would certainly rip off the front of the deceased face, and no evidence of this damage has been found on rediscovered Egyptian mummies. Professor Briar found in several embalmers kits, rediscovered, a long double-edged copper wire with a wooden handle on the end. The procedure he used was to break the nasal cavity entering the skull and feed-in the copper wire. Once all the copper wire had been fed into the skull the wooden handle was turned making the wire spin inside the skull and liquefying the brain inside the skull. The body was then turned on to its side and the brain dribbled out of the skull through the nose.

Once the brain had been removed the body was washed and then covered from head to toe in Natron Salt. The salt dried out the body and produced natural mummification. From death to burial the law stated that the head of the family could not inherit if the deceased father was not buried within seventy days, so the embalmers had around forty of these days to prepare the body. Once the body was mummified the incision on the left hand side of the body had to be closed and a patch called the embalmers lips was placed over the opening. The body was ready for wrapping not for bandages, remembering the deceased is dead he/she does not require a bandage but wrapping. To cover the body from head to toe with three supporting straps required approximately 25 square meters of linen. Kings and high-ranking officials could have up to 10 layers of wrappings with jewellery and amulets of protection.