Mummification is the form of embalming practiced by the ancient
Egyptians. The mummification process changed over time from the Old
Kingdom, when only kings could be mummified to the New Kingdom, in which
everyone could be mummified. The entire process of mummification to be
completed took 70 days. After a body was delivered to the per nefer, which
is where the embalmers conducted their tasks. The first thing that was done
was put the deceased on a slanted table.
The first thing that needed to be removed was the soft, moist body
parts that would cause decay. As the embalmers removed these parts, blood
and other bodily fluids came out and went down the table being collected
into a bowl. During the old and Middle Kingdoms, the brain was left in the
head, in which it just dried up over time. When these mummies are moved
you can hear the hardened pieces of the brain rolling around in the mummies
head. Then in the New Kingdom, the embalmers started removing the brain.
They would break open the bone that separates the nasal cavity from the
brain cavity. They did this by shoving a sharp instrument up the nose. After
they broke the bone, the embalmers used a hook to either take the brain out
piece by piece, or used the hook to stir the brain until it was liquefied. If it was liquefied they would turn the body face down so that the brain would spill out of the nostrils. The reason the Egyptians were so rough with the brain because they didnt think that the brain had a lot of importance in the persons body. They thought that it was just there to produce snot. Instead of the Egyptians thinking that the brain was where everyone got their intelligence, memory, thoughts, etc, they thought that the heart responsible for those things. The heart was sometimes left in the body, but other times it was removed and dried with natron. Then it was either put back in the corpses body or placed beside it in the coffin.
After the soft body parts were removed one of the embalmers would make an incision in the left side above the abdomen. Although this was needed to remove the organs, the Egyptians didnt like to do this incision because they thought that it was sinful to damage a corpse. By making this incision they took out the stomach, intestines, liver, and lungs. After they were taken out the embalmers would then preserve it by drying them in a natural salt called natron which is now called baking soda. In the Old Kingdom after they were dried, the embalmers would put the organs in a four-chambered box made of wood, clay, or stone.This box was stored in the mummys tomb. Then in the Middle Kingdom, the embalmers put each organ in a separate container called a canopic jar. The stoppers of the jars were carved o look like the face of the dead person. Then in the New Kingdom, the stoppers of the canopic jars were carved to look like the heads of the four sons of the god Horus.Then later on the canopic jars were placed in the four chambered chest. By 1000 BC, the preserved organs were wrapped in linen and placed back in the mummys body. The empty canopic jars were still placed in the tomb.
It was said that each son protected the organ that was held inside of each jar. Duamutef, who had the head of a jackal, protected the jar in which held the stomach. Qebehsenuf, who had a head of a falcon, protected the intestines. Hapi, who had the head of a baboon protected the lungs, and
Imseti protected the liver.
After the organs were taken out of the body, the body was washed with wine and rubbed with spices. The alcohol in the wine helped to kill bacteria. The corpse was the covered with natron, in which it stayed on the corpses body for 40 days to dry the body. After the corpse was dry then the skin was shrunken and leathery. The mummy was cleaned again and rubbed with oils to soften the skin of the corpse.