What is the best preserved mummy?

14 November 2017

Question

What was the mummification process? What is the best preserved mummy?

Answer

Chris Smith asked Egyptologist, Meghan Strong, to wrap things up on this question from Caitlyn in Australia.

Meghan - The mummification process is a means of artificially preserving the body, and the reason for the being is that the ancient Egyptians felt that they needed to have their body preserved intact, in its entirety, in order to have an afterlife. For most people, that probably just involved being wrapped in a shroud or a reed mat to keep the elements off of you, or even just backfill from the grave that you were being put into.

However, if you were wealthy enough, or if you were well connected to the king, or something along those lines, you could have more of the ‘Rolls Royce’ treatment  of mummification which was incredibly detailed and took up to 70 days. Most people understand that they removed the internal organs. They would have preserved those separately in their own jars. And then the whole body would have been put into a bathtub or a vat basically filled of natron salt, which is a salt that is native to Egypt. That would have completely dessicated the body so that you would have had this perfectly preserved human. Then that was anointed, wrapped in yards and yards of linen, and then you would have had your mummy.

The best preserved mummy is either Ramesses II, Ramesses the Great, or his father Seti I. And he was actually used as the stereotype for the mummy movies that Boris Karloff was in so I think he was pretty good.

Chris - So that’s your favourite - that gets your vote?

Meghan - Yeah. I think I like him best.

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