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Was a relatively modern society that flourished for 5,000 years in the Nile Delta having a distinct order or defined systems:

  • Cultural
  • Social
  • Political 
  • Economic
  • Religious 

Has had perhaps more influence upon the  modern western world.

Ancient Egypt


In the ordering of human affairs  there appeared, perhaps for the first recorded time, a morality of a group life based on internal conscience rather than on external authority supported by force.

Ancient Egyptians


The Egyptians believed that the sun was the center, the focus of the universe, from which all thing emerged and to which they returned. Osiris was the god of the underworld and judge of the dead. The justified soul would be allowed to pass into perpetual happiness. The condemned soul would pass into perpetual misery. The justified would take the name (absorbed) Osiris once they passed to the other side. (Concept of a final judgement and an afterlife).

Theologies of Sun-Worship and the Cult of Osiris


Egyptians belived that this was the center of the universe from which all things emerged and to which they returned.

The Sun


The god of the underworld and the judge of the dead.



One of these has been to attribute some life to the body lying in the grave, while believing at teh same time that an element or aspect of the dead person resides elsewhere apart from the grave.

Universal Responses to Death


Based on the person's behavior on earth.

Judgement of the Dead


  • Everyone who could afford a sculpted recored
  • Performance of ceremonies
  • Charms attached to the mummies
  • Prayers said by those who visited the tomb

Held Necessary to Secure Future Happiness


Every mummy was already an:



Attained major importance from the belief that the deceased would resume his normal, everyday activities in the after-life.

  • In the earlier periods it was not unusual to sacrifice servants and make presentations of food and money to aid the soul on its journey to the sun.

The Practice of Embalming


Defined as the death cycle, the resuscitation of the body with the soul after a period of about 3,000 years. Through a continuous series of ritualistic actions the reconsituted preserved body would reunite with the soul and pass into eternity.

The circle of Necessity


Is in no way connected with a later concept developed by Judeo/Christian thinkers, specifically, the belief in the immortality of the soul. However, the Judeo/Christian belief in the final resurrection could be linked to this concept.

The Circle of Necessity


Elements of the body that joined to make a person could be ______ in the body of the dead and, when resuscitated though offerings and prayer, would restore the "person" so they could pass on to the sun.



  • The BA
  • Yakhu
  • The name
  • The shadow
  • The heart
  • The Ka

Elements of the Body


The soul or spirit/ Personality

The BA


"The shining one". The soul transported to the sun. A combination of the BA and KA.



Identity of the deceased.

The name


Flesh and bones.- The actual shadow of the deceased. The sillhouette or profile.

The Shadow


Intellect and emotions. 

The Heart


Offerings to the dead; prayers, jewels, etc. It is the breath or spirit that wants to collect these offerings.

The Ka


Beside the religious beliefs involving the resuscitation of the body, there was a second motivation. Specifically, to sanitize the dead to prevent this threat.

The treat of plague as a burial motive


Like the chinese and other eastern cultures, the Egyptians incorrectly believed that the by-products of putrefaction seeping into the soil would, in itself, generate plague. Like the Chinese, they innovated this as a means to safely intern the vast majority of the population.

Dry Burial


Bodies were shrouded in coarse cloth and were laid upon beds of charcoal under six to eight feet of sand. These bodies were not treated chemically but rather allowed to dehydrate, to mummify naturally.

Dry Burial 


Evidence has been  discovered on the great plains of Memphis, above the flood plan of the Nile River, of fine specimens of preservation by natural mummification. (Not coffined). There are more ____ mummies than chemical mummies.



For about 5,000 years, Egyptians practived embalming, peaking during the New Kingdom period 1738 B.C. 

Embalming practices and procedures of the ancient Egyptians


Two historians giving accurate accounts of Egyptian embalming procedure were ___1____ 484- 424 B.C., considered the "Father of Recorded History" who described embalming in detail in his work "The Persian Wars" and __2___ ______ who wrote about the time of Christ. Both historians gave similar accounts.

  1. Herodotus
  2. Diodorus Sirculus


Egyptian embalming practices discriminated between the wealthy and nobility, the merchant-military class, and the masses, usually the poor and enslaved.

  • The most expensive, highest grade of embalming practice was for the nobility (2-5%)

Class Distinction


  1. Evisceration Process of all body cavities
  2. Vatting process
  3. Treatment of the Viscera
  4. Wrapping and Jewling of the body
  5. Encasement Procedure

Steps of the Embalming Process


The brain was removed by a combination of the injection of cedar oil into the brain case through the ear and nose, causing the brain to soften and dissolve and then a hook shaped spoon was utilized to scrape out the remaining undissolved tissue. The cranial cavity was then packed with bandages soaked in resin bitumen (coal tar derivative). This operation was usually done through the nostrils.

Evisceration Process of the Cranial Cavity


The throacic, abdominal, and pelvic cavities were entered through the left lumbar region. The incision was made with a black flint ceremonial knife called an Ethiopian stone. The entire viscera was removed, cleansed and spiced. The heart wasn't always removed.

Evisceration Process of the Thoracic, Abdominal, and Pelvic Cavities


The eviscerated shell was completely immersed in natron (natrium) for about 70 days (or dry packed for 30 days). The shell was then removed, cleansed, straightened and exposed to the sun or put into an oven to induce dehydration (Desiccation).

Vatting Process


The equivalent of today's pickle juice. Basically a sodium salt solution like brine, composed of chemicals taken from the great salt mines of Egypt. (Salt was used as money in ancient times).



  • Potassium Nitrate- KNO3
  • Sodium nitrate- NaNO3
  • Sodium carbonate- NaCO3
  • Sodium bi-carbonate- NaHCO3

Composition of Natron


Were a result of rapidly induced dehydration by vattig in brine in combination with the hot, dry climate (or drypacking with Natron Crystals).

Remarkable Examples of Preservation


During Certain periods of history the viscera, packed in spices, vinegar, perfumes and resins, were returned to the body cavities.

Treatment of the Viscera- Certain Periods


During this period, the viscera was not returned but placed into limestone canopic jars. Each of the four jars having  top in the shape of a head, each having the head of the four children (sons) or Horus.

The Period of the New Kingdom- Treatment of the Viscera


  1. Mestha
  2. Hapi
  3. Tuamutef
  4. Qebhsennuf

The Four Children (Sons) of Horus


Human head protected the stomach and large intestines.



Baboon head - protected the small intestine.



Jackal head- protected the lungs and heart.



Hawk head, protected the liver and gall bladder.



  • The painters and artists replaced the missing fingernails and toenails with gold thimbles.
  • The abdominal incision was sutured and a metal or gold seal was placed over this incision. These plates were engraved with the "Eye of Osiris" so Osiris would pass judgement.
  • The body was spiced and  jeweled, then using bandages 100 feet to 1200 yards long a cuts 3 1/2 to 4 inches wide soaked in pitch blend, gum and crude glue, the body was wrapped wet. After the bandages dried the end result was a hard cast-like shell.

Wrapping the Jeweling the Body


Often at this point the remains were returned to the family for this.

  • African as well as Mediterranean cultures also did this with their upper class dead.
  • Often involved 3 outside enclostures:
    • Mummy case- wood
    • Rectangular box or larger mummy case- wood
    • A sarcophagus of granite or cement

Encasement Procedure


Middle class, technical class, merchants, field grade officers in the military. (10-15%)

  • No evisceration at all, but the cavities were injected with cedar oil.
  • Vatting in natron for 70 days- internal drainage of all cavities (or dry packing with Natron crystals for 35 days).
  • No wrapping, jeweling, encasement. The pickled shell was returned to the family who would inter or entomb the remains themselves. May may have jeweled and wrapped the body before internment/entombment.

The Middle Grade of Embalming


Poor, common soldier, etc. (80%)

  • Pickled shell then dipped into a vat of hot bitumen or tar for up to 70 days. (Black mummies)
  • Usually dry burials on a charcoal bed.

The Third or Lowest Grade of Mummfication


Peruvian mummies found in South America. Painted Black- in fetal position. There are many similarities between Peru and Egyptian life styles and cultures.

Another Kind of Black Mummies


The desire to keep bodies from touching the earth was characteristic not only to the Egyptians but of most early African people. Materials often used:

  • Mats and animal skins
  • Reed baskets
  • Wooden or earthen canisters

Coffins of Egyptian Culture- Earlier Periods of Egyptian History


  • Concern for perfection in preservation increased as better techniques developed.
  • The use of the massive rectangular sarcophagus begins to appear usually in masonry and stone, some were wooden and scribed.
  • Heiroglyphic inscriptions which cover the exterior were devoted to prayers, genealogies, and religious and magical texts intended not only to help the restoration of the body and thereby the reconstitution of the person, but to aid and give power to the dead in the afterlife.

Later periods of Egyptian History (2500 BC)- Egyptian Coffins


The shape of the coffin was changed due to growth of the cult of Osiris, and the anthropoid, or man resembling coffin, came to use.

Egyptian Coffins- Between the 12th and 18th dynasties.


Man resembling coffin.



Was produced first by wood sculpture and carving and later by cartonnage.

The Face of the Deceased (between 12 and 18th dynasties)


Sculpture formed from a mixture of linen and stucco, painted in lifelike resemblance. (Death mask/ Death face).



Was given the appearance of a laborer bearing the implements of husbandry, with only the face and hands exposed. The rest of the body being painted with subjects relating to the future state, and bearing the principle inscription, giving the names and titles "The Osiris Justified."

The Outer Casing (Between 12th and 18th Dynasties)


Is seen in the portrait coffin developed under the Romans about 200 AD.

The Final Development of the Egyptian Coffin


Instead of the modeled head, the face was painted on a wooden panel held in place by bandages. This was the highest form of art work developed by the Egyptians.

The Portrait Coffin


The use of these inlaid in wooden mummy cases and wooder outer cases were common during the 18th dynasty of Amen-Ra. The boy king Tutankhamon's outer case contained these.

Use of Precious Metals and Jewels


  • Kher-Heb
  • Designer or painter
  • Dissector or anatomist
  • Scribe
  • Pollinctor or apothecary
  • Physician or priest
  • Embalmer or surgeon

Undertaking Specialists and Embalming Rituals


The major priest who superimposed embalming and funeral arrangement. He would recite the necessary religious prayer during each step of the operation. Also provided transportation.



Replaced missing fingernails and toenails with gold thimbles. Did all the spicing, wrapping, and painting involved at the end of the embalming operation.

Designer or Painter


Completed the evisceration, vatting (or drypacking), washing, and the application of spices, unguents, and gums. he is called Paraschistes (Embalmer).

Dissector or Anatomist


An assistant of the Kher-Heb, a kind of lawyer who indicated the path of the incision and directed the Paraschistes during the evisceration process.



He was the chemist in charge of vatting (or drypacking). They would make the natron and formulate any other chemical and resin necessary to prepare the body.

Pollinctor or Apothecary


Assisted the Kher-Heb as supervisors during the embalming operation. Involved more ritual and prayer.

Physician or Priest


Basically an upper level Master Dissector or anatomist having supervisory capabilities, but subordinate to the Kher-Heb.

Embalmer or Surgeon


  • It would take as long as three months to prepare the remains for disposition.
  • Even with such elaborate preparations one could still be rejected by Osiris if deemed evil and unworthy.
  • Concept of balance
  • Belief in judgement of the soul- concept of accountability 

Influence of Egyptian Death Customs


The heart of the dead man was weighed against a feather by Anubis. Should the balance be unfavorable, the heart was devoured by the monster Ament, thus ending the chance for the soul to become an Osiris.

Concept of Balance


The god of embalming and protector of the deceased.



The belief in some kind of judgement of the soul at death by a supernatural being was held in Hebrew and early Christian theology as one of the earliest introductions of a sense of inner value, or conscience, which served to control ancient man in his relation to his fellowman. Thus a concept of accountability came about.

Belief in Judgement of the Soul- Concept of accountability


Walled suburbs eastablished near large population centers. Behind these walls were the mortuary temples and the residences of all those involved with the preparation of the dead and their families. Cemeteries including crypts and tombs were also contained in these "cities of the dead."



Inhabitants of the 13 canary islands. These islands are off the Northwest coast of Africa. Many similarities to egyptians.



  • Class distinction
  • Men embalmed men, women embalmed women.
  • Mortuary workers lived in seclusion in remote parts of the islands. They were well paid and respected.
  • Evisceration and treatment of viscera was similar to Egyptians.

Similarities of Guanches and Egyptians


  • Black flint knife called Tabona used to eviscerate body.
  • Dry packing in natron
  • Viscera returned to bodies in packets
  • Bodies placed in sun or oven to dessicate tissues- "Drying period."
  • Corrosive liquids

Similarities of Guanches to Egyptians


Name given to the Gaunche mummy.

  • Light in weight 6-9lbs and about 5'5" tall.
  • Copper in color and hard as wood.
  • Men's Arms were positioned along sides of the body. Women's arms were folded over the abdomen.



Juice of spurge or euphoria injected into abdomen or poured down throat (same as cedar oil that dissolved viscera).

Corrosive Liquids used by the Guanche