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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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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.