Each year, about 60 million people die. That’s about the population of South Africa.
Whether you’re facing the end of life soon or looking to prepare well in advance, you might be curious about our practices today compared to Ancient Egypt. Is anything the same? Read this guide on a comparison between the end of life processes between Ancient Egypt and today.
The Origins of Embalming
You might ask yourself, what is embalming? It’s one of the most common preservation techniques that’s temporary.
It has a history from the Ancient Egyptians around 3200 B.C. They thought that resurrection could only happen for bodies that receive preservation.
Today, you’ll find that it’s commonly still practiced. The embalming process is much different than the Ancient Egyptians!
Ancient Egyptian Beliefs
The Ancient Egyptians believed that there was life after death. They use mummification in order to keep the bodies preserved as much as possible.
They thought that the mummified body had one spirit or soul. When you destroy the body, you might lose the spirit. If this occurred, then the spirit wouldn’t enter the afterlife.
Ancient Egyptians also had tomb preparation. Tomb preparation happened well before the person died. Tombs would hold different items for the afterlife including valuables, food, clothing, furniture, etc.
In their history, only pharaohs were first mummified. Around 2000 B.C. this changed and many average people received this as well. When you die your valuables go into the tomb as well.
Understanding the Mummification Process
In order to mummify a body, you remove the organs and innards. Some organs stay in the body since Ancient Egyptians believe that they’re necessary.
The brain goes through the nose with a special hook through each nostril. The person’s mouth receives scented linen cloths after cleaning it.
A slit goes on the left side of the person’s body to remove the innards. The organs that stay include the stomach, liver, heart, lungs, and intestines.
They clean and wrap the heart in linen cloths before going back inside of your body. It’s part of a test in the afterlife.
Your body is then cleaned out and filled with bags similar to salt (Natron). This preserves and dries out the body in order for it to last forever.
It’s also used to preserve the intestines, stomach, liver, and lungs. They’re placed into special jars in order to protect them from evil spirits.
The mummification process varies depending on whether you’re rich, middle class, or poor. It’s a more complex process for the rich where they follow all of this and more.
Meanwhile, for the poor, you receive a Natron treatment, and they clean your body with an oil enema at the beginning of the process. The treatment sits for about 70 days before it’s returned to the family. Once Christianity took over, the mummification process was lost.
Potentially an Older Practice Than Believed
After the discovery of the Khuwy mummy, the mummification process might be much older than first believed. While first believed that the mummification process was much simpler, this could mean that it was practiced in the Old Kingdom as well. If this is the case, then history books and the entire process will change!
The Khuwy mummy has different textiles and resins which is different than previously thought. It’s similar to mummies found 1,000 years later. This was a major discovery found thanks to National Geographic.
Today, you won’t have organs in your body removed. Instead, you could be prepared for an open casket funeral.
You’ll have your eyes closed and the lower jaw will be secured by sewing it or using wires. Once this is done, then the mouth can be placed into a position.
There’s also arterial embalming. This is where the blood is removed from your body.
After this, it’s replaced with formaldehyde-based chemicals through the arteries. This solution could include ethanol, glutaraldehyde, water, methanol, phenol, and dyes.
After the entire embalming process, your loved one is ready for an open casket funeral. This is where you can see your loved one’s body again one last time.
Their hair will be washed and set depending on you and your family’s preferences. They’ll be dressed in the clothing that you provide. Makeup is applied as necessary.
Why Should I Choose Embalming?
While embalming is normally done with formaldehyde, there are other alternatives to use instead. Embalming is due to the rules for the funeral home and how they must embalm or refrigerate the body once they receive it.
It slows down the decomposition process. If left at room temperature, the body is unsanitary.
For bodies that were in traumatic accidents, embalming is a good option. Viewing a body without this process can be extremely unsettling and upsetting for the families.
Embalming might be a requirement as well depending on where you’re placing your loved one. This will come down to each establishment that you’re considering. Keep in mind that while one cemetery might require it, not all do.
A Comparison Between the End of Life Today Compared to Ancient Egypt
After exploring this guide, you can see that the end of life traditions between then and now have changed completely. This should help you decide whether you’d like to stick with the current trends or consider the traditions of the Ancient Egyptians.
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