« PreviousContinue »
(Chapter XCII): “Let not be shut in my soul, let not “ be fettered my shadow, let a way be opened for my soul and “ for my shadow, and let them see the Great God.” It is very difficult to know where the functions of each of these parts of a man began and ended, for even the Egyptians became confused in dealing with them, and the texts often contradict each other. The main facts are, however, quite clear. The Egyptians believed in the existence of body, double, spirit, soul, and shadow, at all periods, and the views which they held about each are best understood by reference to the religious beliefs which exist at the present time among the A-Zandê, or Nyam-Nyam, the Bantu, the Mañbattu, and cognate tribes in Central Africa. Under the influence of foreigners the primitive views became modified as time went on, but in all essentials the Egyptians who served under the Romans believed what their ancestors believed 5,000 years before.
EMBALMING. THE EGYPTIAN TOMB.
Mummy is the name given to the body of a human being, or creature, which has been preserved from decay by means of spices, gums, natron, bitumen, etc.; strictly speaking it should only be given to the body preserved by bitumen, for "inummy” is derived from a word which appears in Arabic under the form mûmîá, and means “bitumen.” The oldest preserved bodies known were prepared with salt and soda, and bitumen was certainly not used on a large scale for embalming purposes before the XXIlnd dynasty, about B.C. 900. The embalmed body, swathed in linen, was called by the Egyptians qes 1
, or qesou which has passed into Coptic under the form kôs. The word “mummy” is not of Egyptian origin.
In the latter part of the Neolithic Period the Egyptians, in some places at least, decapitated and dismembered the dead, but subsequently, probably as a result of change in religious thought, they took steps to preserve them. At first bodies were merely dried in the sun, and then placed in a hole in the ground, in a sitting position, just as they are to this day by the A-Zandê; later they were laid on one side, with the legs bent upwards, and their knees near the chin. Evisceration of some kind appears to have been practised, but not of a very elaborate character. The finest and most complete example of the class of preserved bodies which were buried in a crouching position is exhibited in the First Egyptian Room, Case A. Here we see, lying on his left side, a Predynastic Egyptian, with hair of a reddish tint; the knees are bent to a level with the top of the breast, and the hands are placed before the face. He was dolichocephalic, or long-headed, and he was both physically and mentally entirely different from the Dynastic Egyptians, whose skulls, in respect of measurements, occupy a middle position between the dolichocephalic and the brachycephalic, or short-headed. Round about the body are vessels which held food, Aint weapons, etc. At this period the body was sometimes wrapped in the skin of some animal, or rolled up in a reed mat.
Soon after the beginning of the Dynastic Period, probably as the result of the growth and development of the cult of Osiris, the Egyptians began to devote more care to the preservation of the bodies of the dead, and the earliest known examples prove that the brain and viscerae were removed, and that the placing of bodies in a crouching position in graves was abandoned, at all events among the ruling classes. The doctrine of Osiris taught that the human body was a precious thing, and men took care to embalm it and swathe it in linen, so that it might be ready for the return of the soul to it, when it would begin a new life in the kingdom of Osiris.
The Egyptian texts supply no details of the methods employed in embalmment, but classical writers describe the processes at some length, and the mummies which have been unrolled and examined prove that their statements are on the whole correct. According to Herodotus (ii, 85) there were three methods of embalming in use in his time. In the first or most expensive way, the brains and viscerae were removed from the body, which was carefully washed with palm wine, and then sprinkled with powdered spices. The cavities in the head and body were next filled with pounded myrrh, cassia, etc., and the opening in the abdomen through which the viscerae were taken out was sewed up. A tank containing a solution of salt, or soda, was prepared, and the body was steeped in it for seventy days. At the end of this period it was taken out of the solution, dried, and anointed with sweet-smelling unguents; then the swathing with linen strips was begun. Sometimes, in the case of women, the cheeks and lips were painted, the eye-lids smeared with eye-paint, and other attempts inade to give to the face the semblance of life before swathing. The fingers and toes were each swathed separately, then the legs and arms, and finally, when pads and wads of linen had been fixed in various places to keep the swathings in position, and to give to the mummy the traditional form of the mummy of Osiris, the body and head were wrapped up in large sheets of linen, which were held in place by stout bands. As each swathing was placed on the body, a priest who was specially appointed said the formula which applied to it, and in cases where a large number of amulets were used, these objects, which were
the bones Wians of oil of cof embalmi
intended to give to the mummy the protection of the various gods, were inserted, under his directions, in their proper places between the swathings. When the swathing of the body was ended, the name of the deceased was usually written in ink on one of the outer coverings.
In the second method of embalming, the viscerae were removed by means of oil of cedar, and the flesh was dissolved off the bones by a preparation of soda ; mummies which were prepared by this process consist of nothing but skin and bone. The third method was used almost exclusively for the poor ; the body was steeped in a preparation of soda for a period of seventy days, and then handed over to the relatives for burial. The period which elapsed between death and burial varied in length. From the inscriptions we learn that in one case the embalming lasted 16 days, the swathing in linen 35 days, and the burial 70 days, i.e., 121 days in all. In another, the embalming occupied 66 days, the preparations for burial 4 days, and the burial 26 days, in all 96 days. According to the Bible (Genesis 1, 3), the embalming of Jacob occupied 40 days, but the period of mourning was 70 days. Certain stelae in the British Museum' mention 70 days, and we may assume that this period was commonly observed, at all events, in Graeco-Roman times.
Cost of embalming.–According to Diodorus, who lived about B.C. 40, the methods of embalming were three in number; the first cost one talent of silver, about £250 ; the second, twenty minae, about £60; and the third very little indeed. In the description of the first method given both by Herodotus and Diodorus, it is said that the intestines were removed from the body previous to embalming, but neither writer says what was done with them afterwards. We know, however, that they were cleansed, and wrapped in linen with powdered spices, salt, etc., and placed in a series of four jars, or vascs, to which modern writers have given the name Canopic Jars. They were thus named by the early Egyptologists, who believed that in them they saw some confirmation of the legend handed down by certain ancient writers to the effect that Canopus, the pilot of Menelaus, who is said to have been buried at Canopus, in Egypt, was worshipped there under the form of a jar with small feet, a thin neck, a swollen body, and a round back. Each “Canopic" jar was dedicated to one of the four sons of Horus, or sons of Osiris, who were also the gods of the
four cardinal points ; and each jar was provided with a lid made in the shape of the head of the deity to whom it was dedicated. The names of the four gods were :
1. Mestha M109.9, or ÅMSET 4
; he was
2. Hãpi 2014; he was dog-headed.
These gods represented the south, north, east, and west respectively, and the goddesses with whom they were associated were Isis, Nephthys, Neith, and Serqet. Mestha protected the stomach and large intestines; Hāpi, the small intestines; Tuamutef the lungs and heart; and Qebhsennuf the liver and gall bladder. The custom of mummifying the intestines separately is as old as the VIth dynasty at least, and the gods of the cardinal points who presided over them are mentioned several times in the texts of Unås, Pepi, and other kings of the Vth and VIth dynasties. The four jars were usually placed in a coffer, or chest, specially prepared for the purpose; and this is frequently depicted in representations of funeral processions. The Ani Papyrus shows the four sons of Horus standing by the coffer containing the mummified intestines of the deceased, and his renewed body rising through the cover of it, holding “life” f in each hand (see page 138). Among the fine collection of “Canopic” jars in the British Museum may be specially mentioned the set made for Kua-tep, XIth dynasty, No. 30,838 (Third Egyptian Room, Wall-case No. 112), and the sets Nos. 22,374-7, and 9562-5, of the later period, in Wall-cases Nos. 74 and 75 (Second Egyptian Room).
The custom of mummifying the dead appears to have been unknown in the Predynastic Period. In the earliest attempts made to preserve the body, the plan followed was to remove the intestines, and then to dry it in the sun, or to rub it with salt. The skulls found in the tombs are usually empty, a fact which proves that the embalmers were able to remove the brain and membranes without injury to the bridge of the