Since Ancient Egyptians believed in life after death, mummification was practiced in order to preserve the body for the afterlife. It started as early as the old kingdom in Ancient Egypt but it reached its peak during the new kingdom. This ritual was essential to guarantee the survival of both the soul and the body. The ritual of mummification has been through many stages of evolution but most of its secrets have not been completely revealed yet.
Traditionally, all that we know of mummification came to us the classical sources such as Greek writers and papyrus drawings and wall relives and the rest through studying the mummies that e found intact inside ancient Egyptian tombs.
The most common mummification methods
The brain was removed through the nose and was discarded. The viscera were removed and stored in jars known today as the canopic jars, while the body was soaked in Natron salt for 70 days until it was dehydrated, artificial eyes replaced the real eyes which had dehydrated, then the body is wrapped with 100 's of meters of gum-coated linen and the jewels were inserted within the layers of the wrapping.
In order to complete the mummification process, it was necessary to preserve the interior body parts, such as the brain, the viscera, and so on. They were put into a square chest which was at first, during the Old Kingdom, divided into 4 compartments and placed into a pit near the sarcophagus. This box was made of stone or wood. Then from the end of the 4th dynasty and during the Middle Kingdom and the Modern Kingdom, this chest became 4 jars. The stoppers of these jars are taken the shapes of 4 different heads (according to the shapes of the 4 sons of Horus).
The Canopic jars are as follows:
- The first was Am-sty, with a human head shape.
- The 2nd one was Hapy, with a monkey head.
- The 3rd one was Dwa-mut-f, with a Jackal's head.
- The 4th was Kbh-snw- f, with a falcon head.
The Greeks named these the Canopic Jars after the deity of the Old City, "Canop". Now it is a village in the province of (Abu Kyr). That deity carried the name of Osiris and was represented in the shape of a jar with Osiris's head. And during the Ptolemaic period, these jars were called the canopic jars.