Egyptian Mummy Wrap

$ 59.00 

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Egyptian Mummy Wrap
Egyptian Mummy Wrap

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Above: Front of Specimen Card

Ancient Egyptian religion had a strong focus on the afterlife. It was understood that upon death a part of a personā€™s soul would disappear. This part, known as Ka, was the source of the personā€™s vitality and it would return before the burial. However, if the body was not properly treated, the Ka would not be able to return and the body would begin to decay, leaving the soul unable to enter the afterlife.


Originally part of the First Edition collection,Ā this specimen comes from the outer wrapping of an Egyptian mummy and dates to roughly 350 BCE. This falls between the fall of Ancient Egypt and the rise of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, a time of successive conquests of Egypt, first by Persians and then by the Greeks.

TheĀ specimen was purchased two decades ago from a privateĀ collector in Northern California and was originally brought to the United States in theĀ late 19th century. The specimenĀ ships inside our classic, glass-topped riker cases. The cases measure 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". AllĀ specimens are enclosed in acrylic specimen jars for protection of the delicate material.Ā A small information card is also included.

Please Note:Ā SpecimensĀ vary widely in shape and detail.Ā We have not treated or stabilized this material in any way. Even though it is infused with bitumen, it is very fragile. Should you choose to handle the specimen, please do so with extreme care. You should also expect some dust inside the specimen jar; it is impossible to avoid.

About Egyptian Mummy Wrap

 

"The Egyptians are the first that laid down the principle of the immortality of the human soul." ~ Herodotus

 

While most ancient cultures preserve their dead, few went to the lengths of the ancient Egyptians. Though today the mummy seems macabre, they were of immense spiritual importance to Egyptian culture and still exist as a testament to the skill of their creators. Roots of Egyptian funerary practices predate written history, such as burying the dead with various goods for the afterlife.

Above: "In this scene, known as the Papyrus of Hunefer (c. 1275 BCE), the scribe Hunefer's heart is weighed on the scale of Maat against the feather of truth, by the jackal-headed Anubis. The ibis-headed Thoth, scribe of the gods, records the result. If his heart equals exactly the weight of the feather, Hunefer is allowed to pass into the afterlife. If not, he is eaten by the waiting chimeric devouring creature Ammit composed of the deadly crocodile, lion, and hippopotamus."

Recent evidence shows that a process of mummification appeared as early as the Predynastic period between 3,700 and 3,500 BCE. Over millennia, the Egyptians made steady progress in both scale and sophistication of the processes surrounding corpses. Low, flat-topped mastabas became step pyramids, while preparation of the dead shifted from air-drying techniques to careful chemical preparation using natron (a natural form of sodium carbonate), oils, plant resins, and a form of petroleum known as bitumen.

Bitumen is a tar-like substance that can be found at the bottom of ancient lakes, in natural pools, or seeping from cracks in sandstone. In the ancient world, bitumen was referred to as pitch, which was used as both a waterproof sealant and glue. Nebuchadnezzar II, the last great King of Babylon, used bitumen in many civic works from lining sewers to setting paving stones. We still use bitumen today as a component of asphalt.

Much of what is known about the mummification process comes from Herodotus, a Greek historian in the 5th-century B.C.E. His accounts are vague on details, leading to much speculation on the exact practices, but there is an understanding of the general steps. First, the brain would be removed with a large hook pushed through the bone in the nose. Anything that remained would be liquified and drained.

Next, the liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines were removed and placed in decorated canopic jars. The heart remained as it was to be weighed in the afterlife. The body cavity was then cleaned and filled with aromatics before being sewn shut and placed in natron, a natural salt in the area. After a period of 40 days, when the corpse was completely dehydrated, the aromatics were removed and the body was oiled. This oil served both a ritual purpose and a practical one; it colored the body a faint gold color and strengthened the limbs to prevent them from breaking. Finally, the body was wrapped in strips of linen which were adhered with gum and the mummy was ready for burial.

Ancient Egyptian religion had a strong focus on the afterlife. It was understood that upon death a part of a personā€™s soul would disappear. This part, known as Ka, was the source of the personā€™s vitality and it would return before the burial. However, if the body was not properly treated, the Ka would not be able to return and the body would begin to decay, leaving the soul unable to enter the afterlife.

Although the most complex mummification processes were only available to wealthy families, even the poor sought to preserve the bodies of their loved ones long enough for them to achieve a place in the afterlife. Without the mummy, the soul was damned for eternity.

Further Reading

Pettigrew, Thomas Joseph. A History of Egyptian Mummies: And an Account of the Worship and Embalming of the Sacred Animals by the Egyptians: with Remarks on the Funeral Ceremonies of Different Nations, and Observations on the Mummies of the Canary Islands, of the Ancient Peruvians, Burman Priests, Etc. Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman, 1834.

Rullkƶtter, J., and A. Nissenbaum. "Dead Sea asphalt in Egyptian mummies: molecular evidence." Naturwissenschaften 75.12 (1988): 618-621.

Peck, William H. "Mummies of ancient Egypt." Mummies, Disease and Ancient Cultures, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge (1998): 15-37.

Wilkinson, Toby AH. Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge, 2002.

Aufderheide, Arthur C. The scientific study of mummies. Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Moshenska, Gabriel. "Unrolling Egyptian Mummies in Nineteenth-Century Britain." British Journal for the History of Science, vol. 47, no. 3, 2014, pp. 451-477.

Riggs, C. ā€œFunerary rituals (Ptolemaic and Roman Periods).ā€ UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, 1, 2010.

Jana, J., Higham, T., et al., ā€œA prehistoric Egyptian mummy: Evidence for an ā€˜embalming recipeā€™ and the evolution of early formative funerary treatments.ā€ Journal of Archaeological Science, vol 100, 2018, pp. 191-200.

Above: Back of Specimen Card

 

Egyptian Mummy Wrap
Egyptian Mummy Wrap