Egyptian Burial Practices

Essay by captainoats17College, UndergraduateA+, January 2009

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The Egyptians were one of the first ancient societies to incorporate the afterlife into their religion. From this came many practices that are well known throughout the world today like mummification. However, the earliest ancient Egyptians did not bury their dead in lavish tombs, but rather in small pits in the desert sands. The dryness and heat of the desert would naturally preserve the bodies. This process was used before mummification was set into practice. As time progressed, Egyptians began to use coffins when burying the dead. The reason for this change was to insure that the deceased would have protection from wild animals. However, this negated the natural preservatives of the hot sand. Therefore, over the next centuries the Egyptians developed a mummification process to preserve the bodies and as the process evolved it became more affective.

This process was performed in three stages that began with the removal of all internal organs except the heart.

The organs that were removed were then placed in jars. These jars were known as canopic jars and would later be entombed with the body. The heart was left because Egyptians thought it to be important. However, the brain was not seen with important and was therefore removed through the nostrils. The next stage was to absorb all fluids from the body. In order to achieve this, the Egyptians stuffed the hollow carcass with a brackish substance and left for forty-five days. Upon total dehydration, the body was then stuffed with wood chips and ready for wrapping. In the final stage, the body is wrapped in linens with charms placed in between. The heart is adorned with a scarab beetle, which meant this most in the afterlife. While these amulets were put in place and the body was wrapped, a cleric prayed for...