Ancient was known as the pre-dynastic. This time

Ancient Egyptians had very strong
beliefs about their dead; they were obsessed with the afterlife and the
requirement to preserve their dead. The mummification process varied from time
period to time period but the religious belief that the human body, especially
one of a Pharaoh, was to be preserved remained through all of ancient Egypt. A
mummy is simply the body of a person or even at times an animal that has been
preserved after death (Barrow 2013). They believed they
had to preserve these bodies so that they can be used in the afterlife. This
process however, was limited to only the rich. The poor could not afford to be
mummified and were simply buried in the sand. This process of mummification was
so important to the people of this time that they even had a god named Anubis
who was the god of mummification. This process was also not quite simple, it
could take up to seventy days at times. Ancient Egypt went through several time
periods: Pre-dynastic, Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, and New Kingdom.

            The first time period was known as the pre-dynastic. This
time period lasted from about 5000 B.C.-3000 B.C. This time period is when the Egyptians
transitioned from a nomadic past to the foundation of what became known as
Ancient Egyptian culture. This time period did not necessarily involve
intentional mummification but burial practices are visible. Few mummies have
been found from the pre-dynastic era and the bodies that have mummified have
mostly just been dried by the sun. During this time period, the Egyptians would
dig a pit in the sand and the bodies of the deceased would be placed inside in
a fetal position. The body would either face the east, towards the rising sun,
or towards the west, towards the setting sun. Evidence of these practices of
the dead can be seen in the pre-dynastic tomb that was found several years ago.

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In an article by April Holloway entitled Pre-dynastic tomb sheds light on
Egyptian life before Pharaohs she states, “The newly discovered
pre-dynastic tomb dates back to around 3,600 BC… The grave goods suggest the
man was an elite member of society,” (Halloway 2014). The way the grave
was set up indicates that the person buried was an elite member of society plus
there’s evidence that grave was later broken into and destroyed indicating he
had enemies. Also, to indicate that the mummy was an elite member of society,
the tomb was surrounded by twenty other burials of humans and animals. This
burial was made in the later pre-dynastic era leading to how mummies were buried
during the Early Dynastic Period and the Old Kingdom.

             The Early Dynastic
Period is where lower and upper Egypt unify and the first real evidence at
experimentation with mummification is evident. This time period lasted between 3050
B.C.- 2686 B.C and consisted of Dynasties Zero, One and Two. During this time
period bodies were, “wrapped in linen and placed in rectangular clay or wooden
coffin in a flexed position with their arms by their sides,” (Hill 2016) At this time the
bodies internal organs, especially the ones in the abdomen, would not be
removed and bandages has natron and resins on it which helped preserve the
bodies. The first royal mummy to every be discovered was the arm of Djer, who
was part of the first dynasty. The arm however, may have been his wife’s; when it
was first discovered it was not necessarily tested well and the arm ended up
being thrown out by the person who was meant to study it. In 1911 a second body
was found that came from a woman in the Second Dynasty. Each of her limbs were separately
wrapped with natron and washed. This leads to the mummification process that
took place during the Old Kingdom.

            After the Early Dynastic period came the Old Kingdom
which lasted from about 2686 B.C- 2171 B.C. This time period also consisted of
dynasties three all the way through six. During this time period, pyramids
became a big thing for Pharaohs and each Pharaoh had his own special request
for what he wanted. With pyramids becoming so big, so did different methods of
mummification. The most popular mummies were linen mummies. Versions of this
was also seen during the Early Dynastic period. The body would be wrapped in a
linen that had been treated with natron and sometimes resin to help model the
body. During this time, details of the face would also occasionally be painted on
top of the linen. Another popular method for mummification during the Old
Kingdom was defleshing. For this this process, “All flesh was removed from the
body and then the bones wrapped in linen” (London 2003).The third most
popular method at this time was stucco mummies. For this process, the body
would also be covered with a thin linen and then would be covered by stucco
plaster, the body would be remodeled in the plaster. Also, during this time
period the internal organs began to be removed from the body by an incision
made on the left side of the body. The first known canopic jar was also from
this time period containing the internal organs of Queen Hetepheres. The end of
the Old Kingdom is also when the first mummy mask appears which leads into the
Middle Kingdom.

            Right
after the Old Kingdom came the First Intermediate Period which lasted from 2181
B.C- 2040 B.C. This included dynasties seven to ten however, the mummification
process did not differ much from the Old Kingdom. The Middle Kingdom followed and

lasted
from 2040 B.C to 1782 B.C and included dynasties eleven and twelve. Egypt
became very wealthy during this time period and many inferior pyramids were
built that have crumbled by now. When it came to mummification, the process did
not differ to much form the Old Kingdom but some progress was made.  The bodies were all still wrapped in linen but
now most heads had a mummy mask to go with it. Canopic jars were also very
popular during this time. The elite canopic jars all contained the viscera
while the less wealthy also included canopic jars in their burials but did not have
the necessary resources to properly remove the internal organs from the body to
place into these jars. Several big differences of this time period included, “the
use of resin… viscera

were
dissolved and partially extracted through the rectum or/and vagina…” (London 2003). Resin was used in
the Old Kingdom but now the skin was coated with it instead of just the linens
occasionally. Also, while most internal organs in the abdomen were removed and
placed in the canopic jars, the heart would remain in the body. The process of
mummification only got more advanced as the dynasties continued.

             Following the Middle Kingdom came the New
Kingdom which lasted from about 1570 B.C to 1070 B.C. This included dynasties
eighteen through twenty and some even say it was the height of Egyptian civilization.

The treatment to bodies, especially to royalty, greatly improved during this
period. The body would be laid in natron and the internal organs would still be
removed. Now however, the brain would also be removed through the nose using a
long and thing metal tool. The process of removing the internal organs and the
abdomen remained very similar, the only difference is the location of the incision.

Instead of the side of the body it was now in the lower torso. The brain was
thrown away and the heart was also removed in this time period but was placed
in the canopic jars along with the liver, stomach and intestines. The mummies
from these dynasties also began to look more lifelike. For example, “The nose
of Ramesses 11 was filled with seeds and bolstered with an animal bone to help
keep its distinctive shape,” (Hill 2016). A piece of linen
made to look like an eye would also commonly be placed over the mummy to almost
make it look alive.

            During
the Third Intermediate Period the art of mummification was perfected. This time
period lasted between 1069 B.C and 525 B.C and included the twenty first to
twenty fifth dynasties. Cuts would be made in mummy and filled with mud,
sawdust and resin making the mummy look much more realistic. The viscera were
also treated and placed back inside of the body now instead of the canopic
jars, but the jars still remained a popular aspect of Ancient Egyptian mummy burials.

The bodies were also painted, men were red and women were yellow, and cosmetics
on the face were placed on both sexes. The eye sockets were also filled with
either glass or stone to make the mummy look as realistic as possible. After
the twenty first dynasty however, there was a drastic decline in the
mummification process. This leads into the Late Period which lasted between 525
B.C and 332 B.C containing dynasties twenty-six to thirty-one. A few new
methods were attempted here like to eviscerate the body but ended up damaging it
instead. Towards the end of this time period bodies were just covered with
either resin or bitumen and poorly/quickly rapped. Very few proper
mummifications were done towards the end of this time period.

             Mummification was a big part of Ancient
Egyptian culture and religion. Their belief in the afterlife and what they had
to do to get there was a big aspect of their daily lives, hence building
pyramids which were the tombs for the elite. As time went on however, after
mastering the process, the importance of mummification slowly began to dwindle.

The Ancient Egyptians will always be remembered for their mummies and how glamourous
they made the tombs of the elite. 

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