Mummification is a natural or artificial process by which the body undergoes dehydration so faster that the tissues remain similar to set.
Particular internal and external conditions are required.
The mummified body has a brownish colour and the skin has the texture of leather or parchment, which adheres to the bone.
The facial features are quite well preserved. The happening of a natural mummification need some particular environmental factors:
- – low temperatures, dry and windy, which prevents the putrefaction
- – burial in dry soils are capable of absorbing large quantities of liquids.
- – presence of particular kind of moulds who make body dehydrate.
Furthermore mummification is helped by malnutrition, advanced age and big haemorrhage. In media, the process of mummification can take six months – a years, but in many cases mummification takes two-three months.
Mummification can also happen in very cold places, as the Similaun.
The most popular civilization for his mummies is surely the Egypt one. Born as a natural process, the conservation of bodies by mummification became a form of art, which diffusion involved the ritual for pharaoh, his family and, with time, nobles and common people.
The embalmer had to act quickly because of body’s decay.
The first step consisted of removing the internal organs whose presence could accelerate the process of decomposition. Brain, stomach and intestine were removed. The only organ that wasn’t removed was the heart because it was considered the seat of the soul.
The organs removed were placed in vases called canopy jars, to be placed in the tomb along with the deceased. Then it proceed with the dehydration by immersing for 40 days in salt. The body was washed with palm wine that, thanks to the alcohol, prevented the development of bacteria.
Then the bandaging started. Bandages were impregnated with natron, pieces of linen and sawdust. Then the body was wrapped with gauze impregnating of natron for countless layers and later proceeded to the funeral itself with the arrangement of the body in the grave.