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The mummification process

Ancient Egyptian mummification preserved the body for the afterlife by removing internal organs and moisture and by wrapping the body with linen. This animation uses the Getty's mummy Herakleides. Created by Getty Museum.

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  • leaf green style avatar for user Brooke
    I was surprised to see what appears to be a Greek Influence in the wrappings of this mummy. Are there many cases of Egyptians using aspects of other cultures in their mummification process, or is this more of an example of the Greeks incorporating Egyptian culture into their own traditions?
    (34 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user 福龍丸
      Egypt was part of the Hellenistic Kingdom of Ptolemy after Alexander the Great died and his empire was divided among his generals. It remained so until being conquered by the Romans. Therefore, as the ruling elite and many of the residents in Egypt were Greek or Greek-speaking at the time, it is not surprising -but rather predictable- that the ways of art-making of the coexisting cultures were often combined.
      (40 votes)
  • mr pants teal style avatar for user lauren l
    How do they know everything that is inside (what appears to be) the intact wrappings? Have they just used X-rays/MRIs/etc. or have they actually opened the mummy up to examine it? What are common techniques for discovering what's inside the wrapping?
    (15 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user maria @ getty
      The mummy was not unwrapped. A team of conservators, scientists, art historians, and medical professionals worked together to examine it using various methods including gas chromatography mass spectrometry to identify trace organic compounds, raman spectroscopy to determine molecular structures of substances, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy to identify organic materials, and CT scanning. Antiquities conservator Marie Svoboda discusses the analysis that has been done on the Mummy of Herakleides in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA0lEglXFQU -Maria from the Getty Museum
      (29 votes)
  • female robot grace style avatar for user TJudd
    What was the point of the wooden board? Was it to keep him straight?
    (5 votes)
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  • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Victoria Chen
    Was only the rich, royalty, and famous mummified? Or did "common" people get to be too?
    (5 votes)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user 6698415
    At , How do they remove the internal organs such as the heart and lungs from the body?
    (4 votes)
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    • mr pink red style avatar for user WallAvi
      The following information may or may not be correct...
      http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/egyptian-mummies-episode3-faq.htm

      Q: How were the internal organs removed during mummification?

      A: A small, four-inch-long incision was made in the left side of the body. The organs were carefully removed through this small opening.

      See Also:
      http://www.si.edu/Encyclopedia_SI/nmnh/mummies.htm
      Excerpt:
      The first step in the process was the removal of all internal parts that might decay rapidly. The brain was removed by carefully inserting special hooked instruments up through the nostrils in order to pull out bits of brain tissue. It was a delicate operation, one which could easily disfigure the face. The embalmers then removed the organs of the abdomen and chest through a cut usually made on the left side of the abdomen. They left only the heart in place, believing it to be the center of a person's being and intelligence. The other organs were preserved separately, with the stomach, liver, lungs, and intestines placed in special boxes or jars today called canopic jars. These were buried with the mummy. In later mummies, the organs were treated, wrapped, and replaced within the body. Even so, unused canopic jars continued to be part of the burial ritual.
      (4 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Aiyannah
    At , why, with this specific mummy, was the heart removed and the lungs left in when it is usually the other way around?
    (4 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Michele Gadow
    I was so interested in this so awesome
    (4 votes)
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  • purple pi purple style avatar for user Residuum
    Could the bird have been a close pet? I've never seen an animal wrapped up with a human before.
    (1 vote)
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    • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Anna Taylor
      Mummified animals are not an uncommon sight in tombs and pyramids. Animals were mummified for multiple reasons, including acting as sacrifices or pets in the afterlife. One theory about this specific mummified ibis is that it was intended as a sacrifice to the ibis-headed god Thoth, but you're right that it's rare for mummified animals to be wrapped with a human mummy.
      (5 votes)
  • duskpin tree style avatar for user Debby A. Debryana
    How many people needed to do all of those process? Is there a special team whose has a skill in mummified a deceased person? Or does everyone in that era has a skill to mummified a deceased person?
    (2 votes)
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  • mr pink red style avatar for user rasha.badroun
    why was his name in greek when he is in egypt?
    (1 vote)
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    • piceratops sapling style avatar for user m-pier-no
      Egypt was part of the Hellenistic Kingdom of Ptolemy after Alexander the Great died and his empire was divided among his generals. It remained so until being conquered by the Romans. Therefore, as the ruling elite and many of the residents in Egypt were Greek or Greek-speaking at the time, it is not surprising -but rather predictable- that the ways of art-making of the coexisting cultures were often combined.

      (taken from up in another question :) )
      (3 votes)

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] This is a mummy of a young man named Herakleides. He died in Egypt in the first century A.D. when he was about 20 years old. Mummification was developed by the ancient Egyptians to preserve the body for the afterlife. Typically, all internal organs were removed before mummification with the exception of the heart. But in this case the heart was removed and the lungs were left intact. Next, the body was covered with salt and left for about 40 days, until all moisture was eliminated. Perfumed oils and plant resins were rubbed on the body. Thick layers of resin were applied to glue the strips of linen that were wrapped around the body. The mummy was placed on a wooden board and more wrappings bound them together. A mysterious pouch, perhaps of religious significance was placed on the chest. A mummified ibis, a wading bird with a slender, down curved bill, was placed on the abdomen. Ibis mummies commonly served as votive offerings to the gods, but this is an unusual case of a bird being mummified with a deceased human. Long linen strips further secured the wrappings. A portrait panel of Herakleides was placed over the face. A large linen cloth was wrapped around the mummy. The shroud was painted red with an imported lead-based pigment. This treatment is rare, very few red shroud mummies are known to exist. Egyptian symbols of protection and rebirth were painted on the outer cloth with pigments and gold. Finally, Herakleides name was written in Greek at the feet. Thanks to this remarkable mummification process, Herakleides body is with us today.