Make a mummy

  Although everyone in ancient Egypt can think of mummy, the word mummy is not Egyptian. The word probably originated from Persian, meaning pitch or tar. The mummies learned that it was because the preserved corpses turned black due to age. The people who first discovered the mummies looked at it and thought that the Egyptians preserved the corpse by soaking the corpse in tar, and later proved that their idea was wrong. The earliest mummies in Egypt probably had never been soaked with anything, and they were produced entirely by accident. Long before the rise of the Egyptian pharaohs 5,000 years ago, farmers in the Nile River basin were unwilling to turn the fertile land that was not enough to use as graveyards, so they buried the dead naked in the sand on the edge of the desert near the basin. Because the Egyptians bury corpses only about 1 meter deep, the sand layer will gradually drift after some time, and some corpses will inevitably be exposed. These corpses are dried out by the hot sand moxibustion, and normal decay does not occur at all. The skin, hair, and appearance of the corpse hundreds of years ago looked as if it were just buried, which is amazing. These corpses are not mummies in terms of technical terms, and many of them remain the same as they were then.
  After 3100 BC, Egyptian society became increasingly organized under the rule of the Pharaoh, and religious beliefs in the afterlife actually developed into worship of the dead. Pious people gradually believe that the body should be properly preserved, and it is even more necessary to do so if you want the dead to enter heaven. They believe that if any part of the body rots in the grave, that part will be lost forever. This may be why the figures made by the Egyptians decorating the tombs of their ancestors must have all four limbs.
  Once the preservation of the flesh becomes the core of the belief in regeneration after death, it becomes necessary for people to be buried in a solid stone tomb after death and no longer buried in the sand; at least those who have the money to build stone tombs will think so. . Since the body is no longer buried in sand, it is natural to use another antiseptic method to replace the antiseptic effect of dry sand. Therefore, a new industry of embalming corpses came into being, and embalmedists also regarded corpse embalming techniques as secret recipes passed down from generation to generation. The Egyptian corpse embalmer did not use sand, but used a kind of natural rock salt called soda, namely sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate (that is, the washing soda and baking powder we use daily) to treat the corpse. . Soaking alkali acts like a sponge to absorb water, and can suck out the moisture of the body buried in the soaking alkali powder. The antiseptic used spices and various solvents to clean the internal organs of the corpse, and finally wrapped the corpse with a wrapping cloth several hundred meters long. There are often some precious refined amulets sandwiched between layers of cloth to protect the dead from being disturbed by demons and ghosts on the way to heaven.
  As far as we know, the earliest mummies that were carefully preserved and then wrapped in cloth began about 2600 BC. The embalming technique reached its peak from 1085 BC to 945 BC, the 21st Pharaoh dynasty. Subsequently, the spirit of religious piety was gradually replaced by the commercial attitude of profitability. The corpse master no longer tried to keep the corpse intact. Instead, he paid attention to the appearance of the mummy (this is a bit like a modern funeral director who puts on makeup for the deceased to pay attention to the remains). The antiseptic seals the inside and outside of the body with thick rosin, and occasionally uses honey, just to hide it but not to restrain the body from decay. The embalmedist used strong spices to cover the lingering body odor. On the wooden box containing the mummies, painted some lifelike portraits to explain the past. The technique that used to work hard to keep the body intact forever is no longer available. Therefore, later mummies are often poorly preserved, and there may only be bones left in the wrapper.
  As late as the 1st century BC, corpse embalmers were still respected for their skills, and they were able to make a lot of money with their ability to embalm. According to the Greek writer Diodorus who lived in Egypt at that time, the embalmedists in the 1st century BC embalmed the corpse and provided different services such as upper, middle and lower. Diodorus said that the third class is the cheapest first class, and the price is quite fair, although there is no record of how much it is; however, no matter how much it is charged, it is probably something that most ancient Egyptians cannot afford and rely on labor. Wherever the living and the peasants can find a place, they will bury the dead. The second-class price of 20 meters is estimated to be about US$3,000. The old coins that cost the first-class whole body antiseptic, converted into the current money, exceed 10,000 US dollars.
  Most of the poor people are unable to spend such a large sum of money to embalm the corpse and still bury the dead in the sand. The corpses of these poor people are less decomposed than the corpses that have been artificially embalmed. During the long period when the pharaoh ruled Egypt, almost all tombs, as long as they were buried a little valuable, were dug and plundered by tomb robbers. These tomb robbers had no religious fear of the dead. They not only opened the coffin, but also tore the mummy wraps apart and took away the valuables hidden in the layers of wraps. These desecrated and abandoned corpses were finally re-wrapped by the priests, but they were unavoidable. From the outside they seemed to be well preserved. In fact, X-ray radiography of many mummies often showed that there was a piece of cloth inside. A rag and scattered bones.
  After years of development, the ancient Egyptians’ method of mummifying corpses has changed a lot. However, most scholars and experts believe that the embalming method reached its peak around the tenth century BC. At that time, a first-rate embalming artist roughly made a mummy according to the following steps:
  First, use a flint knife to make a 10 cm long incision on the left side of the corpse’s abdomen. , Take out all the other internal organs except the heart (both the preservative and his customers believe that the heart is the root of feelings) from the incision, and wash them one by one with wine and spices containing myrrh and cinnamon. The preservative also rinsed the corpse’s abdominal cavity with cedar oil to decompose the remaining soft tissues, and then prepared to take the brain. He also used a hooked tool to penetrate the head from the deceased’s nostrils, hook out the brains inside, and pour the cedar oil and spices. , Rushed out of the remaining tissue in the skull.
  Every part of the corpse was thoroughly cleaned, and the embalmedist buried all the organs and the corpse in a pile of soda (sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate mixture) powder and drained the water. The body and organs are probably buried in the alkali powder for about a month. After taking them out, each part is washed with perfume and spices. Every step from the beginning to the end of the embalming work must be carried out seriously by the embalmer. For example, at the beginning, each finger of the corpse should be wrapped to prevent the nails from being damaged or lost.
  Then, the embalmedist wraps the dried internal organs in linen one by one, and puts them back into the abdominal cavity (or individually put them in earthenware pots or gypsum pots) and fills the abdominal cavity with fillers such as sawdust, linen, tar or mud. After filling and placing, the incision will be sutured. Because soaking alkali has damaged some hair, some wigs must be added and braided together with the real hair that has not taken off; artificial eyes need to be inserted into the eye sockets. At this time, the remaining work is to restore the appearance of the corpse, which is also the most laborious, because it is not easy to restore the shriveled corpse to its original appearance.
  The antiseptic performed this ancient plastic surgery operation by carefully cutting many tiny incisions around the body and filling the skin with linen fillers, just like the 20th century plastic surgeons injecting silicone to make a living person. Even the face and neck of the corpse were as if they were alive, and his mouth was stuffed with linen to fill his cheeks. Finally, the antiseptic also acts as a makeup artist, using colored clay called ocher to dye the face of the deceased all over the body (the dead men are dyed red and the dead women are yellow). The body can be wrapped after dyeing. The embalmedist wrapped the corpse’s limbs with rosin-smeared linen densely layer by layer, then wrapped the head and torso, and finally wrapped the whole body. This package work is slow and time-consuming. Several mummies are now unwrapped, and the total length of the wraps exceeds 2 kilometers!
  The embalmedist wrapped the corpse and made a mummy, which took about 70 days. Follow the embalmer to return the mummies to the mourner. At this time, the mourner probably has another human-shaped coffin to hold the mummies, and the tomb has been built.