Q:

Why was mummification important to the Egyptians?

A:

The ancient Egyptians believed that the soul does not fully detach from the body and that in order to live well in the afterlife, the body must be preserved in the best way possible. In ancient Egyptian religion, the spirit has three parts: the ka, ba and akh. The ka remains with the body in the tomb, while the ba is the part of the soul that wanders beyond the burial place and the akh is the part of the soul that travels to the underworld for judgment and to be allowed entry into the afterlife.

Experts believe that the ancient Egyptians discovered the mummification process by accident. The earliest Egyptian mummies were preserved mainly because of the conditions the bodies were buried in. Before 3500 B.C., the Egyptians buried their dead in shallow pit graves, regardless of social rank. This exposed the bodies to the hot and arid desert sand, which dehydrated and thus preserved and mummified the bodies naturally.

The ancient Egyptians studied and continued to perfect the process of mummification for 2,000 years, holding on to the tradition well into the Roman era. The mummification process involved removing as much moisture as possible after taking out the internal organs. The body was dried out by covering it with a sodium-like chemical called natron for approximately 70 days. After the drying process, the body will be wrapped in cloth to complete the mummification process.


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