Page images

baltos, and the Persians call a drug used in medicine slogo. The celebrated Arabic physician Ibn Bêtâr (died A.H. 646), quoting Dioscorides,' who lived in the first century of our era, says that Mumia is found in the country called Apollonia, and that it flows down with water from the "lightning mountains," and being thrown by the water on the sides of the water courses, becomes hard and thick, and that it has a smell like that of pitch. Having further quoted the article by Dioscorides

on Pittasphaltus, he adds, “ What I say on this subject is as "Mummy” follows: The name mûmîa sblogo is given to the drug of the sub

which mention has just been made, and to that which is called used in embalming

* Bitumen of Judæa,' sogeul geol, and to the můmia of the



which is found in great quantities in ,الموميای القبوری tombs

ولقد اشتريت ثلثة اروس مملوة منه بنصف ,Egyptian dirhem and says that it varies very little from mineral ,درهم مصری

Egypt, and which is nothing else than a mixture which the Byzantine Greeks used formerly for embalming their dead, in order that the dead bodies might remain in the state in which they were buried, and experience neither decay nor change. Bitumen of Judæa is the substance which is obtained from the Asphaltites Lake, Ida 65..” 'Abd el-Lațif mentions that he saw múmia or bitumen which had been taken out of the skulls and stomachs of mummies sold in the towns, and he adds that he bought "the contents of three skulls for half an

, pitch, for which it can be substituted if one takes the trouble to procure it.

About three or four hundred years ago Egyptian mummy formed one of the ordinary drugs in apothecaries' shops. The trade in mummy was carried on chiefly by Jews, and as early as the twelfth century a physician called El-Magar was in the habit of prescribing mummy to his patients. It was said to be good for bruises and wounds. After a time, for various reasons, the supply of genuine mummies ran short, and the

sold as
a drug.

Materia Medica (ed. Kühn, in Medicorum Graecorum Opera, tom. xxv., Leipzig, 1829, p. 101).

? See Abd el-Latif, Relation de l'Egypte, tr. by De Sacy, Paris, 1810, p. 273, and Abdollati phi Historiæ Ægypli Compendium, Ed. White, Oxford, 1810, p 150.

Jews were obliged to manufacture them. They procured the bodies of all the criminals that were executed in gaols, and of people who had died in hospitals, Christians and others. They filled the bodies with bitumen and stuffed the limbs with the same substance ; this done, they bound them up tightly and exposed them to the heat of the sun. By this means they made them look like old mummies. In the year 1564 a physician called Guy de la Fontaine made an attempt to see the stock of the mummies of the chief merchant in mummies at Alexandria, and he discovered that they were made from the bodies of slaves and others who had died of the most loathsome diseases. The traffic in mummies as a drug was stopped in a curious manner. A Jew at Damietta who traded in mummies had a Christian slave who was treated with great harshness by him because he would not consent to become a Jew. Finally, when the ill-treatment became so severe that he could bear it no longer, the slave went to the Pasha and informed him what his master's business was. The Jew was speedily thrown into prison, and only obtained his End of the liberty by payment of three hundred pieces of gold. Every

mummy. Jewish trader in mummy was seized by the local governor of the place where he lived, and money was extorted from him. The trade in mummy being hampered by this arbitrary tax, soon languished, and finally died out entirely."

trade in


name of Sāḥu, and the word used to indicate the act of making a dead the em

balmed man into a mummy is 498 or mo qes; it means to

body. "wrap up in bandages.” The Coptic forms of the latter word are kec, KHC, KWC, KwWc, kwwce, and they were used by the Copts to translate the Greek ενταφιασμός, ταφή, ένταφιάζειν, Dámtelv, etc.; the word eriòdwr, “mummy,” is also given by Kircher, Lingua Aegyptiaca Restituta, Rome, 1643, p. 183, at the foot. The mummifier was called pegawc; compare orog &TkwC el nicpana axe ripecjawc= kai évetaφίασαν οι ενταφιασται τον Ισραήλ.3

· Pettigrew on Mummies, p. 4.
? Lagarde, Der Pentateuch Koptisch, Gen. 1. 2.
3 Lagarde, Librorum Vet. Test. Canon., Gen. I. 2, p. 51.

2. Whether the art of mummifying was known to the

Antiquity of embalming.

Ancient Egyptian work on anatomy.

aboriginal inhabitants of Egypt, or whether it was introduced
by the new-comers from Asia, is a question which is very
difficult to decide. We know for a certainty that the stele of
a dignitary preserved at Oxford was made during the reign of
Sent, the fifth king of the second dynasty, about B.C. 4000.
The existence of this stele with its figures and inscriptions
entreating the god of the dead to grant sepulchral meals,
points to the fact that the art of elaborate sepulture had
reached a high pitch of perfection in those early times. The
man for whom it was made was called E*E || Sherä, and he
held the dignity of is meter hen or “prophet”; the stele also
tells us that he was l := suten rech or “royal relative."
The inscriptions contain prayers asking that there may be
granted to the deceased in the nether world, “thousands of
oxen, linen bandages, cakes, vessels of wine, incense, etc.,"
which fact shows that religious belief, funereal ceremonies, and
a hope for a life after death, had already become a part of the
life of the people of Egypt. During the reign of king Sent,
the redaction of a medical papyrus was carried out. As this
work presupposes many years of experiment and experience,
it is clear that the Egyptians possessed at a remote period
ample anatomical knowledge for mummifying a human body.
Again, if we consider that the existence of this king is proved
by papyri and contemporaneous monuments, and that we
know the names of some of the priests who took part in
funereal ceremonies during his reign, there is no difficulty in
acknowledging the great antiquity of such ceremonies, and
also that they presuppose a religious belief in the actual
revivification of the body because of which hoped-for event
the Egyptians took the greatest possible care to preserve and
afterwards to hide the bodies of the dead.
Though there exists, to my knowledge, no monument of a
similar nature to that of the stele of Sent which would prove
beyond doubt that mummies were made in the first dynasty,
still it seems tolerably certain that they were made, and there
is little doubt that the Egyptians possessed all the anatomical
knowledge necessary for this purpose. We know from
Manetho that Tetá, the second king of the first dynasty,

[ocr errors]

abcut B.C. 4366, wrote a book upon anatomy, and that he busied himself in making experiments with drugs. The mother of this king, a lady called Shesh

J,' earned fame for herself by inventing a hair wash. From the fact that the bodies of some ancient Egyptians who lived during the first four dynasties, have been found in a skeleton state in sarcophagi which had never been opened since the time they were cemented, some six thousand years ago, until the present day, it has been argued by some that mummification was not practised during the early dynasties in Egypt. Some system of preservation must have been adopted, however, because the bones are discoloured, and smell strongly of bitumen.

The knowledge of the way in which the ancient Egyptians mummified their dead is obtained from the works of Greek historians, and from an examination of mummies. According to Herodotus,” “When in a family a man of any consideration Account of dies, all the females of that family besmear their heads and embalming

by Hero. faces with mud, and then leaving the body in the house, they dotus. wander about the city, and beat themselves, having their clothes girt up, and exposing their breasts, and all their relations accompany them. On the other hand, the men beat themselves, being girt up in like manner. When they have done this, they carry out the body to be embalmed. There are persons who are appointed for this very purpose; they, when the dead body is brought to them, show to the bearers wooden models of corpses made exactly like by painting. And they show that which they say is the most expensive manner of embalming, the name of which ? I do not think it right to mention on such an occasion ; they then show the second, Three which is inferior and less expensive ; and then the third which is the cheapest. Having explained them all, they learn from balming. them in what way they wish the body to be prepared; then the relations, when they have agreed on the price, depart; but the embalmers remaining in the workshops thus proceed to embalm in the most expensive manner. First they draw out First the brains through the nostrils with an iron hook, taking part of method

balming. · Papyrus Ehers, Bd. II., Glossarium Hieroglyphicum, by Stern, p. 47. ? Bk. II. 85. 81.8., Osiris. B. M.



it out in this manner, the rest by the infusion of drugs. Then with a sharp Ethiopian stone they make an incision in the side, and take out all the bowels; and having cleansed the abdomen and rinsed it with palm-wine, they next sprinkle it with pounded perfumes. Then having filled the belly with pure myrrh pounded, and cassia, and other perfumes, frankincense excepted, they sew it up again ; and when they have done this, they steep it in natrum, leaving it under for 70 days; for a longer time than this it is not lawful to steep it. At the expiration of the 70 days they wash the corpse, and wrap the whole body in bandages of flaxen cloth, smearing it with gum, which the Egyptians commonly use instead of glue. After this the relations, having taken the body back again, make a wooden case in the shape of a man, and having made it, they enclose the body; and thus, having fastened it up, they store it in a sepulchral chainber, setting it upright against the wall. In this manner they prepare the bodies that are embalmed in the most expensive way.

“Those who, avoiding great expense, desire the middle way, they prepare in the following manner. When they have

Second melhou of embalming

[blocks in formation]

1 Compare ταριχεύει δε ο Αιγύπτιος- ούτος μέν γε-λέγω δ' ιδών-ξηράνας τον Verpòv ČÚVOELTVOv kai BrutóTIV émonoato. Lucian, De Luctu, $ 21 (ed. Dindorf, Paris, 1867, p. 569).

Αιγύπτιοι δε τα έντερα εξελόντες ταριχεύουσιν αυτούς, και συν εαυτοίς υπέρ yňs éxovoiv. Sextus Empiricus, Pyrrhoniarum Institutionum lib. III. cap. 24 (ed. J. A. Fabricius, Leipzig, 1718, p. 184).

Mortuos limo obliti plangunt : nec cremare aut fodere fas putant : verum arte medicatos intra penetralia collocant. Pomponius Mela, lib. I. cap. 9 (ed. Gronov., Leyden, 1;82, p. 62).

Aegyptia tellus
Claudit odorato post funus stantia saxo
Corpora, et a mensis exsanguem haud separat umbram.

Silius Italicus, Punicorum lib. XIII. II. 474-476

(ed. H. Occioni, Turin, 1889).

Balsama succo unguentaque mira feruntur
Tempus in aeternum sacrum servantia corpus.

Corippi, De laudibus Justini, lib. III.

11. 22–25 (ed. Antwerp, 1581, p. 4).

« PreviousContinue »