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In the early centuries of our era, mummies of wealthy people Descripwere wrapped in royal cloth made wholly of silk.1 When Emmies Pisentios, Bishop of Coptos, and his disciple John took up i*isentheir abode in a tomb in the " mountain of Tchemi" (tutcuot
it (ThlULl = i-"-J Q the necropolis of Thebes) they
found it filled with a number of mummies, the names of which were written on a parchment roll which lay close by them. The two monks took the mummies and piled them up one upon the other; the outer coffins were very large, and the coffins in which the bodies were laid were much decorated. The first mummy near the door was of great size, and his fingers and his toes were bandaged separately (neCfTH& it XI2C rtCJU. rteq<Ti.XA.*rx KHC it OV&.1 Ot&.i); the clothes in which he Silken was wrapped were made entirely of silk (^oXoCHpiKOtt2 doths?y itTG rtlOTfpcucnr).8 The monk who wrote this description of mummies, and coffins, and silk, evidently described what he had actually seen. The huge outer coffins to which he refers belong to a very late period, as do also the highlydecorated inner coffins; the fingers and toes being bandaged separately also points to a late Roman period. His testimony
1 Silk, Heb. ''ttto (Ezek. xvi. IO, 13), LXX., rpixairrov, oijp.icAc (Rev. xvii. 12), Syr. \^'fMt was common in Greece and Rome at the end of the second
century of our era. According to Aelius Lampridius (cap. 26), Heliogabalus was
3 For the complete text sec Amclincau, Elude sur It Christiaimmc en Egypte, V- '43
that silk was used for wrapping mummies is corroborated by the fact that within the last few years a number of mummies wrapped in cloths covered with silk1 have been found. In the British Museum is a fine specimen (No. 17,173), in which two men on horseback, four dogs, flowers, etc., are woven in green and yellow on a reddish ground. The whole is inside a circular border ornamented with flowers. This piece of silk is sewn on a piece of fine yellow silk which is in turn sewn on a piece of ordinary mummy cloth to strengthen it. Ubek°y Mummies of the Roman period were identified by small wooden labels, of an average size of five inches by two inches, pierced at one end, and tied to the necks of the dead. The inscriptions record the name of the deceased, and sometimes those of his father and mother, and the number of years of his life; some are in Greek only, a large number are bilingual, Greek and demotic, and a few also give the equivalent of the inscriptions in hieroglyphics. Unfortunately they are very easy to forge, for the natives use old wood from Egyptian coffins, and are able to imitate the inscriptions very closely, and many imitations are sold to tourists annually. ofem"6 ^e Egyptian Christians appear to have adopted the
balming in system of mummifying, and to have mixed up parts of the ufcSris"' °^ Egyptian mythology with their newly adopted Christitianiiy. anity. Already in the Illrd century of our era the art of mummifying had greatly decayed, and although it was adopted by wealthy people, both Christian and Pagan, for two or three centuries longer, it cannot be said to have been generally in use at a period later than the IVth century. I believe that this fact was due to the growth of Christianity in Egypt. The Egyptian embalmed his dead because he believed that the perfect soul would return to its body after death, and that it would animate it once more; he therefore took pains to preserve the body from all destroying influences in the grave. The Christian believed that Christ would give him back his body changed and incorruptible, and that it was therefore unnecessary for him to preserve it with spices
1 For excellent coloured representations of Byzantine mummies, see Plates A and B, in Mi moires de la Mission Archhlogique Fxancaise au Caire, torn, iii., Paris, 1890.
and drugs. The idea of embalming the body and keeping it in the house with the living seems to have been repugnant to many famous Christians in Egypt, and Anthony the Great admonished his two faithful disciples not to allow his body to be taken into Egypt, but to bury it under the ground in a place known to none but themselves, lest it should be laid up in some dwelling. He disapproved of this custom, and had always entreated those who were in the habit of keeping the body above ground to give it up; and, concerning his own body, he said, "At the resurrection of the dead I shall receive it from the Saviour incorruptible."1 For the description of a plaque, which must have come from the mummy of a Copt, see under "Anubis" in the article "Figures of the Gods."
The bandages with which the bodies of men and animals Mummy are wrapped were, until comparatively lately, believed to be ^oughtTo made of cotton. In 1646 Greaves stated in his Pyramido- be made of graphia that the "ribbands, by what I observed, were of cottonlinen, which was the habit also of the Egyptian priests," and he adds, "of these ribbands I have seen some so strong and perfect as if they had been made but yesterday." Ronelle in the Memoires de FAcade'mie R. des Sciences, for 1750, asserted that every piece of mummy cloth that he had seen was made of cotton, and Forster2 and Solander, Larcher3 and Maty, Blumenbach 4 and others accepted this opinion.
Jomard thought that both cotton and linen were used for bandages of mummies;1 Granville, in the Philosophical Transactions for 1825, p. 274, also embraced this view. The question was finally settled by Mr. Thomson, who after a twelve years' study of the subject proved in the Philosophical Magazine (Illrd Series, Vol. V., No. 29, Nov., 1834) that the Mummy bandages were universally made of linen. He obtained for made of his researches about four hundred specimens of mummy linen. cloth, and employed Mr. Bauer of Kevv to examine them with his microscopes. "The ultimate fibre of cotton is a transparent tube without joints, flattened so that its inward surfaces are in contact along its axis, and also twisted spirally round its axis: that of flax is a transparent tube jointed like a cane, and not flattened nor spirally twisted."3 The coarse linen of the Egyptians was made of thick flax, and was used for making towels, awnings and sail-cloth ;3 the fine linen, 'o06vt), is thought by some to be the equivalent of the of Proverbs vii. 16. The Greek Htv&ov
= Heb. plD'was used to denote any linen cloth, and sometimes cotton cloth; but the <rivS6vo$ /3vcralvT)<} with which mummies, according to Herodotus (II. 86), were bandaged, is certainly linen. The Egyptian word usually translated by "byssus" is p 5 shens, Coptic tyeitc; ordinary
words for linen are mdk, 0 ^ (}!} 5 mennui,
Y 0* Coptic \\z.T = odovtav ftvaaivoov (Rosetta Stone,
L 17). One piece of very fine texture of linen obtained at Thebes had 152 threads in the warp, and 71 in the woof, to each inch, and a second piece described by Wilkinson (Ancient Egyptians, III. 165) had 540 threads in the warp, and 110 in the woof.4 One of the cities in Egypt most
1 Description de rEgyfte; Mimoires sur les Ffyfoge'es, p. 35. 8 See Yates, Textrinum Antiquorum; London, 1843, p. 262, where the whole subject is carefully discussed.
» Comp. O^VpSQ rrciTI^ Oft?, Ezelciel, xxvii. 7.
4 See also an interesting letter by De Fleury to M. Dcvtrin on " Les Etoffes Egyptiennes "in Rev. Arch., t. XXI, Paris, 1870, pp. 217-221.