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How Long Does it Take to Make a Mummy?

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Making a mummy is a complex process. The Ancient Egyptians performed a number of rituals, as a body was mummified and prepared for burial. Some of the steps are necessary for the proper preparation of the corpse, while other steps had more to do with religious and the fantastical beliefs of the time. Egyptians believed a physical body was necessary for an afterlife, so preserving the body as a mummy was necessary.

Time Frame

The first mummification of a human in 2000 years happened in 1994. The process took a total of 35 days to completely dry out the body, a week to prepare it and a week to wrap it. Ancient Egyptians took 70 days to prepare a mummy. Egyptians likely chose to take longer in preparing a body in order to follow the star of Sirius. Mummification rituals began when the star first appeared, marking the new year, and ended as the star finally disappeared in the Egyptian sky.

Removal of Organs

All of the internal organs must be removed to make a proper mummy. The first organ removed is the brain, as it was thought by the Egyptians to be of little importance. Next, the bodily organs are removed, washed with frankincense, myrrh and palm wine. The organs are then dried, using natron and individually preserved in various canopic jars. Embalmers rinse the empty cavity with wine and myrrh.

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Drying the Body

The body is buried under bags of natron to help the drying process. Natron is a combination of sodium bicarbonate and a soda ash. The 160-pound man mummified in 1994 required approximately 600 pounds of natron. The room is kept at 115 degrees Fahrenheit to help the process along. The humidity level stays at around 30 percent. At the end of the 35 days of drying, the body weighed a mere 60 pounds, due to the loss of all moisture and bodily organs.

Completion of the Mummy

The empty cavities of the body are filled with spices, myrrh and wood shavings. The burial technicians rub the body with five oils: frankincense, myrrh, palm, lotus and cedar. Finally, strips of linen are wrapped around the entire body to encase it. Scientists fastened the linen with resin. This process took several days, still only bringing the modern mummy-making to a total of 49 days.

About the Author

Pharaba Witt has worked as a writer in Los Angeles for more than 10 years. She has written for websites such as USA Today, Red Beacon, LIVESTRONG, WiseGeek, Web Series Network, Nursing Daily and major film studios. When not traveling she enjoys outdoor activities such as backpacking, snowboarding, ice climbing and scuba diving. She is constantly researching equipment and seeking new challenges.

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