Mummification was the ancient Egyptian practice of embalming and preparing a body for the grave, from which it was believed the dead person would enter into an afterlife. Mummification was carried out by trained professional priests and required the skilled use of various pieces of apparatus.
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The first step of mummification in ancient Egypt was to remove the brain. The embalmers did this by inserting a long slender piece of metal sculpted into a hook into the nose. They used the hook to drag pieces of the brain out through the nostrils.
An oil jar contained sacred oils used in the embalming of the body. The smell of the decaying body would often be overpowering, and the oils not only offered embalming qualities but also helped relieve the stench the corpse created. The oil jars were often slim and tall and made of simple clay.
Funnel and Resin
Egyptian embalmers used a funnel to pour resin made from balsam-tree sap and plant nutrients into the dead person's head. The resin hardened, supporting the skull to keep it from collapsing. The resin was also used to coat the bandages and finish the embalming process.
Embalmer's Knife, Needles and Awls
The head priest embalmer used an embalmer's knife to slice the torso and remove organs such as the liver and intestines. This knife was usually curved and thin and often decorated with symbolism relating to the afterlife. Needles and awls supported the work of the knife, making small holes and punctures to enable easy and clean access.
Embalmers would place all of the organs they removed from the body into a canopic jar. In some cases, the jars were decorated with sculptures of the head of the dead person. In other cases, the jars had lids that were decorated with the heads of the sons of the god Horus. Each head was supposed to protect the organ until it was reunited with the body in the afterlife.
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