Religion was part of everyday life. The great enduring symbols and masterpieces of Ancient Egypt were all part of an elaborate preparation for the journey which began after death. From Hollywood blockbusters to oriental novelists and from classical verses to video games, the figure of the mummy has fascinated audiences worldwide for centuries. Many modern embalming techniques and methods use the same processes perfected thousands of years ago.
Most mummies were found in the Valley of the Kings, the most renowned necropolis of them all. Home to Tutankhamun's famous tomb as well as Seti I, Ramses the Great and Tuthmosis III, and carved deep into the remote limestone hills at Thebes, the burial city for the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom was designed to be inaccessible to robbers. Unfortunately, some robbers persevered, lusting for gold and Lapiz Lazuli encrusted treasures. Luckily, a few tombs managed to escape their attention and so treasures from Yuya, Taya and Tuthankhamun's tombs survived. Many of them can be seen in Cairo's famous museum of Egyptology today.
The Ancient Egyptians sophisticated knowledge of embalming is nothing short of astonishing. Firstly, all of the internal organs were carefully removed, mummified and sealed in canopic jars, but the heart was left inside the body, as Anubis, god of embalming, needed to weigh the dead heart to judge its owners honesty.
A special combination of dehydrating salts known as natron was then left on the body for 40 days to draw out all the moisture. Once dried, the mummy was anointed with oils to make it watertight, and then rubbed with gum, cedar oil, wax and more natron. Stuffed with sawdust, draped in funerary jewellery and bandaged in linen, the mummy was finally sealed in a succession of coffins inside an ornately decorated sarcophagus.