History Embalmed

Ancient Egyptian Embalmers

The Mysterious work of the Ancient Egyptian Embalmers
The mysteries surrounding how the Ancient Embalmers of Egypt created mummies has slowly unravelled over the years. The embalmers were very secretive about their art and process of creating mummies and left no accounts which related to their embalming techniques, mysteries, ceremonies and rituals.

Hieroglyphics and spells have provided an insight into the method of creating mummies by the Ancient Egyptian Embalmers, as do artefacts such as the embalmers tools and instruments and the embalmers table. The writings of the Greek traveller called Herodotus have provided a significant amount of information into the methods applied and processes followed by the Ancient Egyptian Embalmers.

The History of Ancient Egyptian Embalmers
The tradition and history of Ancient Egyptian Embalmers started with the myths and legends of the Ancient Egyptian gods, in particular Osiris. In the creation myth Osiris was murdered by his younger, jealous brother Seth but brought back to life, by his wife Isis, for just one day.

The body of Osiris was embalmed by the god Anubis who therefore made Osiris the first of the mummies. The Egyptian method of preparing the body for mummification applied by the embalmers varied according to the social status of the deceased. At first only the pharaohs were made into mummies but this ritual was later extended to other Egyptians who were wealthy enough to pay for the process to become a mummy. Eventually even the peasants were made into mummies. The reason that Ancient Egyptian Mummies were created was to keep the soul alive and ensure a clear path to the Afterlife.

The Roles of the Ancient Egyptian Embalmers
Who were the Embalmers in Ancient Egypt who created the mummies of Ancient Egypt? Where did the ancient Egyptian embalmers work? The embalmers worked on the west bank of the River Nile well away from the residential area of Egypt. The process of creating the Ancient Egyptian mummies was both a religious and technical process and therefore practised by the priests who were trained in both the embalming techniques and the religious rituals that were associated with it. There were different types of priest embalmers who worked in an embalming hall and workshop called a “Wabet” which meant a clean place. The names and the roles of the Ancient Egyptian embalmers were as follows:

  • The Hery Sesheta (the priest who wore the Anubis mask) - The Hery Sesheta was in charge of the embalming process and the creation of the mummies. The name Hery Sesheta meant 'Overseer of the Mysteries'. The Hery Sesha embalmer priest made the incision for removal of the internal organs of the corpse
  • The Hetemw Netjer - The Hetemw Netjer was the embalmer priest who assisted the Hery Sesheta with the death rituals
  • The Hery Heb - The Hery Heb was the lector priest who worked with the embalmers and was present to read magical spells and prayers which related to the rituals used when creating the Ancient Egyptian mummies
  • The Wetyw - The Wetyw were the most junior embalmers and undertook jobs such as removing the organs and bandaging the Ancient Egyptian mummies during the mummification process

Ancient Egyptian Embalmers
The process and techniques used by the Ancient Egyptian embalmers for creating the Mummies of Ancient Egyptian differed according to the roles and the wealth of the people they were embalming.  At first only the bodies of dead Pharaohs were made into mummies. The wealthier the deceased, the more elaborate the process followed by the priest embalmers and the more elaborate the rituals and ceremonies conducted by the Ancient Egyptian Embalmers. The role of the priest embalmers was lucrative and powerful. The three different categories of Ancient Egyptian Mummies were as follows:

  • The Pharaoh, Royalty and Nobility

  • The Middle Classes - scribes, army officers, doctors etc
  • The Egyptian Peasants

The Ancient Egyptian Embalmers Seventy Day Rule for creating mummies
The process and rituals practised by the embalmers for the creation of mummies for their final burial rites lasted for a period of seventy days. The seventy day period corresponded to the length of time during which Sirius, the 'Dog Star', appeared to die by dipping below the horizon. The 70 day rule observed by the embalmers applied to all classes of Egyptians - rich or poor. The seventy day process for creating the Ancient Egyptian mummies of wealthy Egyptians was divided by the embalmers into the following activities:

  • 15 days spent on cleansing and purification

  • 40 days drying period

  • 15 days wrapping, bandaging and paintings

Egyptian Ancient Egyptian Embalmers
Each section of this Egyptian website addresses all topics and provides interesting facts and information about the Golden Age of Egypt. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of Egypt, the Ancient Egyptians and of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, King Tut.

Egyptian Mummies

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