Archaeologists unearth Ancient Egyptian embalming cache

Archaeologists from the Czech Institute for Egyptian Science have discovered a cache of artefacts related to the practice of Ancient Egyptian mummification during excavations in the Abu Sir cemetery.

Mummification in Ancient Egypt was an integral part of the rituals for the dead, involving the preservation of the body to ensure the deceased was accepted into the afterlife. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the soul, ka, which represented vitality, leaves the body once a person dies. Only if the deceased is correctly embalmed will the ka return so that they can live for eternity in the afterlife.

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The cache, which dates from the 26th Dynasty (664 BC–525 BC) was found in a huge well measuring 5.3 x 5.3 meters at a depth of around 14 metres.

The researchers have identified 370 ceramic vessels, containing the remnants of materials used in the mummification process, in addition to four empty limestone Canopic jars engraved with hieroglyphic texts that names an individual called ‘Wahibre’.

During the mummification process, the brain was removed and drained, whilst a mixture of tree resin and fragrances stored in vessels such as the ones found in Abu Sir was used to stop the decomposition of any residual brain material. The lumbar area was then sliced open, and the organs of the abdomen (usually with the exception of the heart) was removed and placed in canopic jars to store and preserve the viscera of the deceased.

Miroslav Barta, head of the Czech mission, stated “The excavations were part of a long-term project aimed at uncovering antiquities dating back to an era when ancient Egyptian society was looking for new ways to preserve their unique Egyptian identity.”

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Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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