Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, March 29, 2021

Ancient Egyptian manual reveals new details about mummification

MummyEgyptologist Sofie Schiødt of the University of Copenhagan was able to reconstruct the embalming process used to prepare ancient Egyptians using a manual discovered in a 3,500-year-old papyrus. The manual used by Schiødt is the oldest surviving manual on mummification that has been discovered. 

Embalming was considered a sacred art in ancient Egypt and only few people knew the process. It is likely that embalming secrets were shared orally, which Egyptologists believe may be the reason why written evidence is miniscule. 

Sofie Schiødt shared an edited version of the manual, below is a construction of the embalming process: 

The embalming, which was performed in a purpose-built workshop erected near the grave, took place over 70 days that were divided into two main periods – a 35-day drying period and a 35-day wrapping period.

During the drying period, the body was treated with dry natron both inside and outside. The natron treatment began on the fourth day of embalming after the purification of the body, the removal of the organs and the brain, and the collapsing of the eyes.

The second 35-day period was dedicated to the encasing of the deceased in bandages and aromatic substances. The embalming of the face described in the Papyrus Louvre-Carlsberg belonged to this period.

The entire 70-day embalming process was divided into intervals of 4 days, with the mummy being finished on day 68 and then placed in the coffin, after which the final days were spent on ritual activities allowing the deceased to live on in the afterlife.

See Ancient Egyptian manual reveals new details about mummification, University of Copenhagan: Faculty of Humanities, February 26, 2021. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2021/03/ancient-egyptian-manual-reveals-new-details-about-mummification.html

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