Egyptian linen cover for Har-Pa-Jem, ca. 664 B.C. – 200 A.D.

The ancient Egyptians believed in life after death. They thought that the soul of the deceased traveled to the Hereafter once their earthly days were over. When a person died in Ancient Egypt, his body was preserved through the process of mummification. But only the richest Egyptians, besides Pharaoh and his family, could order his mummification, since it was a very expensive process, as well as long: the mummification took a total of 70 days to be completed. The mummification process took place two or three days after death. The body was taken to the embalmers, who worked on the banks of the Nile, since water was needed in abundance. The body was washed and the brain was extracted. Then the internal organs: the stomach, the intestines, the lungs and the liver. They were wrapped in a linen cloth and inserted into the four canopic vessels. The heart was left inside the mummy's body because it should not be separated from her body, because it was the place where feelings, consciousness and life resided. Then the body was covered with natron, a salt that dried it. This treatment lasted between 35 and 40 days, so that the body, being totally dehydrated, no longer decomposed. It was filled using silt or sawdust from the Nile or spices. It was then sewn, and sometimes closed with linen, a wax plate or, in the case of a king, a gold plate. It was washed with water from the Nile and anointed with aromatic balsams. And the deceased could now be dressed. Once all these previous steps had been carried out, the body was wrapped in linen bandages such as these, sometimes impregnated with resin by means of a very strict ritual. While this process was being carried out, a priest wearing a mask of the god Anubis recited the corresponding formulas of enchantment. This linen covering from the Lower Epoch is handwritten in hieroglyphic for Har-Pa-Jem, son of Taamun.   


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