Monday, 14 July 2014

Why Were People Wrapped As Mummies?

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to find out why people were wrapped as mummies.

Many cultures used to use mummification, or preservation of dead bodies. Other civilizations have created mummies, some before the legendary Egyptians. Research has shown that Incas carried their dead to mountains in Peru, this was done to preserve the bodies using the dryness and cold. The body of Lady Cheng the Chinese aristocrat, which is over 2,000 years old, was immersed in embalming fluid to be preserved, which makes her the best preserved mummy known to man. In northern Chile, more than 2,000 years before Egyptians did mummification, the Chinchorro people perserved their dead and kept them in households like statues to remember them before burial.

The first mummies are thought to be as early as 5600 B.C. in Chile, where a layer of clay was used on the bodies. Mummification in Egypt started around 4000 B.C., and peaked from the16th and 10th century B.C. The more elaborate mummification were used only on influential people like the Pharaohs. Other cultures which performed mummification are the ancient Guanches in the Canary Islands, the Ethiopians and the Incas of the Andes Mountains. The practice has been found amongst primitive African people and in the Aleutian Islands.

The most interesting finding amongst all the ancient practices for burial, preserving and honouring the dead is how some cultures took advantage of Mother Nature. The Chinchorro people used their mummification process using their dry desert climate. A British archaeologist found Bronze Age mummies in an out of the way Scottish isle which had been preserved using acids that are naturally found in the island's peat bogs. The skin stayed in a leathery state, however, the bones had completely eroded due to the acidic chemicals found in the bog.

Even though other cultures were mummifying their loved ones, it was the ancient Egyptians who truly mastered this art. And although the word mummy comes from an Arabic word which means bitumen, the Egyptians didn't actually use this in their mummification methods.

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