Title: Ancient Egyptian Funerary Technology; Embracing Death through Cultural Beliefs, Rituals, and Mummification.
I) Introduction: Man’s respect and reverence for life lends to respect and reverence for death.
A) Egyptians saw death as a new journey that no one had personal experience with. (Thesis) Unique Ancient Egyptian Funerary Technology emphasized two mandates; first, an adherence to cultural beliefs and rituals laid out in The Book of The Dead, and second, mummification as means of body preservation, Egyptians believed it was necessary to have a functional body for the soul to navigate the Kingdom of the Dead (1).
II) Historical Record: Earliest recorded narratives are Greek, ca. 2200 BCE (Before Common Era) —135 CE (Common Era).
A) Famous Greek heroes such as Gilgamesh, Herakles, and Theseus, through their mythological stories help everyday Greeks understand classical Greek issues surrounding their lives and their deaths.
B) Most individuals of this time period saw death as an individual journey.
C) Christianity introduced the concept of an apocalypse, and all-consuming, world- wide event capable of destroying all of humanity.
III) Cultural beliefs and rituals surrounding death.
A) The Book of the Dead (1), (3).
1) A cryptic collection of tailored, individual instructions for prominent, “Royal” Egyptians to succeed in the afterlife.
2) Hymns, epithets and magical spell recited by priest at embalming, written in coffin or on tomb walls (2).
3) Osirian Myth: Osiris, mythological Egyptian god of death, king of the dead, depicted as first mummy. The Osiris Myth, used as guide to customize the text found in the individual The Book of the Dead (1).
A) Definition: a series of physical and chemical applications, in addition to, ritualistic magical spells, epitaphs, and hymns and litanies recited by an Egyptian priest at the time the body is embalmed; all of which is designed to minimize or arrest tissue decomposition (1), (3), and (5).
1) Mummies found as part of other cultures around the world, but, the Egyptians credited with the origination and refinement of technology.
B) Origination of technology, alluded to in Egyptian Cosmogonies.
1) Cosmogonies established a foundation for religion, cultural morays, and established a familial lineage (1).
2) Helped answer “Is there an after-life?” Egyptians understood death as something to be managed and in turn life could be restored.
3) The Osiris Myth revisited. Egyptians understand why it is so important to pay meticulous care to the body; a means necessary for the soul to navigate the kingdom of death (1), (3).
C) The process of Mummification.
1) Body face up on flat mortuary stone; cool crypt, arid conditions facilitate desiccation.
2) Abdominal viscera and organs removed, washed and desiccated, individually wrapped, returned to body cavity later.
3) Brain liquefied and removed from skull.
4) Body cavity washed and dried, body flexed into fetal or sitting position and lowered into a concentrated salt bath in a large jar, with the head exposed (5).
5) When epidermis of skin can be easily lifted the body is removed from salt jar.
6) Replace any fingernails or toenails that have fallen off.
7) Coat abdominal cavity with oils and fragrances, replace abdominal organs that are individually wrapped. Close abdomen with linen tapes and a plate of wax.
8) Finally, body coated in oil and fragrance, wrapped twice with linen tapes, final coat of oil and fragrance and resin, then final linen wrap (5), (4).
A) Ancient Egyptian Funerary Technology centered on two mandates; one, an adherence to cultural beliefs and rituals and laid out in The Book of the Dead, and two, mummification as a means of body preservation.
B) Funerary Technology of the day shows a collaboration between …
1) Religious ideals and rituals, mythological themes, human necessity, and early applied science.
C) Managing death meant life restored.
1) Lopez-Ruiz, Carolina. Gods, Heroes, and Monsters. New York, NY. Oxford University Press, 2014. p. 23 – 27, p. 445 – 451. Print
2) Lichtheim, Miriam (1975). Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol 1. London, England: Universitym of California Press.
3) ASSMANN, JAN, and DAVID LORTON. Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt. Ithaca; London: Cornell University Press, 2005. Print.
4) Mummies. Lynnerup, Niels. American Journal of Physical Anthropology vol. 134 issue S45 2007. p. 162 – 190.
5) Dawson, Warren R. “Contributions to the History of Mummification.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 20.6 (1927): 832–854. Print.
6) Dunn, Jimmy (22 August 2011). “An Overview of Mummification in Ancient Egypt”. Retrieved 9, November 2013.
7) Pic1. Detail from the book of the dead of Sesostris, 15th century b.c. (Vienna, Austria]).
8) Pic2. Robertson, Graema. The Guardian 2010. In Pictures: the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead at the British Museum.