Who’s your mummy? How (and why) ancient Egyptians preserved their dead.
Unlike gangsters and politicians who go to great lengths to hide dead bodies, ancient Egyptians did everything they could to ensure the dead body stuck around. At the time, Egyptians believed survival of the body after death was necessary in order to “live again” in the afterlife. Thus the preservation of their dead was extremely important to the people of ancient Egypt (Editor note: Reeko said we were specifically forbidden to mention the “double your mummy back” guarantees offered by the ancient Egyptian funeral homes).
Surprisingly, researchers this week found that the Egyptian practice of mummification was being carried out much earlier than previously thought. They found that embalming substances from the oldest-known Egyptian cemeteries showed mummy-making from as early as about 4300 BC – about 6,000 years ago.
To mummify a person’s body, the Egyptians wrapped the dead body with strips of linens which were coated with embalming agents that acted as an antibacterial and protective barrier. The recipe used for the goop used to coat the linen called for exotic ingredients such as plant oils, animal fats, pine resin, plant gum, and petroleum. Some of the ingredients used were quite rare and costly which meant only the richest citizens were mummified.