Scientists Have Discovered Exactly How Ancient Egyptians Used To Embalm Their Mummies
Sun Feb 26 2023
For many years scientists have been mystified as to how the ancient Egyptians were able to preserve their mummies so well. But finally a team of researchers have cracked the code after discovering a collection of 31 ceramic vessels in an ancient embalming workshop.
The ancient Egyptians needed a carefully concocted recipe of ingredients to create the perfect recipe. It is clear that there were highly specialized chemists around thousands of years of ago who had created the embalming lotion to apply topically to the skin of the recently deceased person.
Some of the newly discovered substances include beeswax, resin from the turpentine tree, and resin from the elemi tree native to the Phillipines, among others. This balm was applied only after the bodies had undergone body washing, salting, and skin softening, however.
For example, before embalming, the body would be subjected to a salting process using natron, which would start the process of extracting moisture. This recipe dates back to around 664BC, and included specific instructions that stated that the balm should be applied beneath a bandaged area.
Interestingly, some of the substances used in the embalming recipe were not of local origin. Quite a few of the materials needed had been retrieved from further up north around the Mediterranean, while others substances hailed all the way from Southeast Asia.
Sourcing and mixing the recipe was only one step in the long and taxing process. The actual process of applying the mixture adequately would take around 70 days per person and saw the removal of certain vital organs. One organs which remained within the body was the heart, however.
Professor Philipp Stockhammer, from Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, was part of the team of researchers. He stated, “It’s interesting to see the complexity of embalming – the global network on the one hand and this chemical knowledge on the other side which goes far beyond what we knew before.”
Professor Stockhammer continued: “These people used antibacterial and antifungal substances to keep the skin best preserved, but without having any microbiological background – without knowing about bacteria.”
Ancient Egyptians mummified their dead as a means of transporting someone to the afterlife – something of which they believed was only possible if the body had been properly preserved. Should the body be left to disintegrate, it was believed that the soul of the person would be lost. Finally, after around 5,000 years, we’ve come one step closer in recovering the mysteries of Ancient Egypt.