Ancient Egyptians didn’t mummify bodies to save them

(ORDO NEWS) — Ancient Egypt is always associated with the pyramids and the mummies they contain. For a long time it was believed that mummification was carried out in order to preserve the bodies.

According to the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, the body mattered for a person, or rather his souls (each person, according to the ancient Egyptians, has not one soul, but several) even after death. Therefore, it is important that it remains intact.

However, a group of scientists from the University of Manchester refutes this version. In their opinion, mummification had a deeper meaning, and its purpose was not at all to preserve the bodies of the dead for many years.

But why then was embalming carried out, and if this is true, why did the Egyptologists go so wrong for so long? Let’s try to figure this out further.

Mummification in Egypt – why people were mistaken

Who even decided that the purpose of the mummification ceremony in ancient Egypt was to preserve the bodies of the dead?

According to scientists from the University of Manchester in England and the staff of the Manchester Museum, the mistake was made by Victorian researchers who decided that the Egyptians preserved the bodies of the dead using the same technology that salted fish.

Fish is known to be salted so that it can be stored for a long time, and it can be eaten later. Therefore, they decided that mummies were created for the same purpose.

Of course, not to eat them later, but to save the body for religious purposes. True, later the mummies were still eaten, but not by the Egyptians, but by the Europeans.

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The ancient Egyptians used the mineral natron for mummification

It should also be noted that Victorian Egyptologists also believed that they would need a body after death.

Obviously, this affected their confusion about the goals of mummification. Since this version became official, for a long time it was not questioned.

However, later it turned out that for embalming mummies, the Egyptians did not use the same salt that they salted their catch for later consumption.

They treated the bodies of the dead with natron. It is a natural mineral that contains sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride as well as sodium sulfate.

It was he who was the main component in mummification. Where did people get this mineral? It was in abundance at the bottom of the lake near the Nile.

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Sarcophagi may contain clues to mummification purposes

Why did the Egyptians make mummies

To answer why the Egyptians created mummies, you should pay attention to what else they used natron for. According to Campbell Price, an associate at the University of Manchester, natron was also used in temple rituals – it was applied to the statues of the gods.

In addition, it is known that the mummies were abundantly filled and rubbed with incense. At the same time, incense usually served as gifts to the gods. Incense in ancient Egypt was even called the word “senetjer”, which literally meant “to make divine”.

As scientists explain, the use of incense in the temple makes this space divine. By the way, the Christian Gospel also tells about the gifts of the Magi, the incense that they presented to Jesus Christ as God.

From this we can conclude that the Egyptians applied the mineral natron and incense to the body of the deceased in order to also make it divine or bring it closer to the gods. That is, in fact, there was a transformation of the human body into a divine statue.

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The ancient Egyptians rubbed statues of the gods with natron and incense

As you know, sarcophagi with the image of a human face were created for mummies. Often they repeated the facial features of the deceased. Scientists suggest that the use of such “masks” gave an idealized image to the divine form, that is, it brought the human remains even closer to the divine statue.

At the same time, the ancient Egyptians did not have to preserve the bodies. In fact, in the process of mummification, the mummies themselves became a by-product, at least according to British scientists.

I must say that this theory is consistent with the fact that sarcophagi with mummies were often placed near houses in an upright position.

Therefore, they were made in such a way that they could stand steadily like statues. Although there is another theory, according to which the ancient Egyptians originally buried the dead in the sands, where natural mummification of the remains occurred due to heat and dryness.

Subsequently, when in ancient Egypt they stopped burying people in the sand, mummies “according to tradition” began to be made artificially.

But no one can say for sure what happened in reality. It is quite possible that even among the Egyptians themselves, in different periods of time, the goals of mummification changed. After all, it is known that initially only the bodies of the pharaohs were subject to embalming.

Over time, in ancient Egypt, everyone was mummified, and often not only people, but even animals and birds.

That is, traditions have changed over time. What can be said with certainty is that Ancient Egypt is an example of a colossal and outstanding cult of the dead, which, obviously, has not been seen again in history.


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