Early Egyptians were buried in small pits in the desert; the heat and dryness of the sand dehydrated (dried out) the bodies quickly creating a naturally embalmed body. The Egyptians believed they would need their bodies in the afterlife. Over time they began burying their dead in coffins to protect the bodies from animals, but the Egyptians learned that without the dry heat of the desert the bodies rotted in the coffins. Over many hundreds of years a method of preserving bodies was created—this is the process we as MUMMIFICATION. The mummified body is called a MUMMY.
How mummies were made:
1. The body was purified by cleansing.
2. The brain was removed through the nose.
3. The liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines were removed through slit in the side but not the heart; each organ was then embalmed (preserved) and kept in jars; the jars were called canopic jars; there was a separate one for each organ. It was believed that these jars were buried with the body.
4. The body was then covered and filled with a special salt called natron to help draw out any moisture; a process which took about 40 days.
5. When dry, the body was stuffed with straw, linen or other materials to help the body keep its shape; rubbed with oil, wax and natron to stop the skin from cracking; then covered with perfume.
6. The body was wrapped in linen coated with resin to preserve it; charms, jewels, and papyrus were placed between each layer of wrapping while prayers were said by a priest.
7. A painted mask was placed on the mummy’s head so that the dead person would recognize its soul in the afterlife. The mummy was then placed into a painted/decorated coffin called a sarcophagus.