3,500 Year old Egyptian Papyrus reveals new details about Mummification

3,500 Year old Egyptian Papyrus reveals new details about Mummification

A new document found has provided unknown details about the mummification process. Researchers have found a 3,500-year-old medical papyrus, making it the oldest manual about the process they carried out to prepare their loved ones after death.

Research in particular has focused on the papyrus Louvre-Carlsberg, which is named after its two ‘owners’: the well-known French museum and the Carlsberg Papyrus Collection at the University of Copenhagen.

The papyrus, divided into two parts, originally belonged to two private collectors. Although several sections are missing, it has been possible to date around the year 1450 before Christ, surpassing in more than a thousand years the other two examples of embalming.

In it, have been revealed new evidence regarding the entire face embalming process of a deceased in ancient Egypt, in which his face was covered with a piece of red linen and aromatic substances.

Medical text on the use of plants

Formerly, mummification was considered a sacred art whose knowledge was limited to very few people. Hence, according to experts, the secrets could be transmit by word of mouth.

The newly found text is the third of its kind, which is also the oldest in the world. In it, reference is made to the plant medicine and skin inflammations.

Sofie Schiødt, Egyptologist at the University of Copenhagen, has been in charge of analyzing the document, in which she found “extremely detailed descriptions” of all this mummification process and of which nothing was known until now in the other two manuals.

New details of mummification

One of these procedures unknown to date refers to the embalming of the face with a remedy made from aromatic substances and binders, which are cooked to form a liquid with which to coat a piece of red linen.

This fabric was placed over the face of the deceased, making a kind of protective layer of aromatic and antibacterial matter. This process was repeated every four days, while the body was covered by fabrics and straw dipped in aromatic substances, in order to ward off insects and scavengers.

Despite being the first time these procedures have been revealed, Egyptologists had already examined some mummies whose faces were covered in cloth and resin, which, according to Schiødt, “would fit well”.

Melissa Galbraith
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