Archeology is the science responsible for studying cultures and civilizations of the past. And it is through archaeological discoveries that traces of ancient societies and cultures are discovered. Thus, it is possible to better understand how certain people lived, what their habits and customs were. Even, which led to its demise.
Egypt and its customs are always well studied by archaeologists. These people believed in life after death and, according to their beliefs, the person’s spirit would take over his body and wealth again. Therefore, pyramids were erected to house their corpses, until their spirits returned. To preserve the body for that moment, the mummification process was created. And so the first mummies were born.
As much as we know a lot about mummification, there are still doubts about exactly how the Egyptians prepared the bodies to go on in the afterlife.
The researchers made an exciting discovery and found an original “how-to” manual. It was hidden inside an ancient text that explains the main steps to embalm and create a mummy.
This guide to mummification was found on a 3,500-year-old piece of papyrus called the Louvre-Carlsberg Papyrus manuscript. He received this name because half of it, which has mainly medical information, is in the Louvre museum. And the other part of it is part of the Papyrus Carlsberg Collection at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Before this discovery, researchers had only two original texts on mummification. This process was considered a sacred art in Egypt. And only a few specialists were taught the ways of embalming. And that knowledge was passed on verbally to someone else.
“The text looks like an aid to memory, so the intended readers must have been experts who needed to be reminded of these details, such as recipes for ointments and the use of various types of bandages,” said Egyptologist Sofie Schiødt, from the University of Copenhagen.
As they did
She published details of that text in her doctoral thesis. And the complete papyrus of the Louvre will be published next year. One of the details spoken by Schiødt is a list of instructions for embalming the face of a dead person. This was done with a piece of red linen covered with a special herbal solution.
This solution had aromatic substances and binders for the mixture to be maintained. The cloth served as a way to keep the face protected from insects and bacteria. In addition to having a sweet smell.
In the discovered manuscript there is also a 70-day timetable for embalming. It is divided into two halves. A drying period of 35 days and a packaging period of 35 days. These periods are divided into four-day intervals.
Among the common treatments with the body was the application of a mixture called natrão. It was placed after the organs and brain were removed.
“A ritual procession of the mummy marked these days, celebrating the progress of the restoration of the deceased’s bodily integrity, totaling 17 processions over the embalming period. Between the four-day intervals, the body was covered with a cloth and covered with straw infused with aromatics to ward off insects and scavengers, ”explained Schiødt.
This is the first time that half of the Carlsberg Collection manuscript has been analyzed and translated. Thus, it joins the information that had already been unveiled from half of the Louvre Museum.
“Many descriptions of embalming techniques that we find on this papyrus have been left out of the two later manuals and the descriptions are extremely detailed,” concluded Schiødt.