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‘Surprising’ ancient Egyptian mummy ingredients discovered

‘Surprising’ ancient Egyptian mummy ingredients discovered

‘Surprising’ ancient Egyptian mummy ingredients discovered

‘Surprising’ ancient Egyptian mummy ingredients discovered

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  • The Ancient Egyptians created a remarkable procedure for embalming corpses.
  • Researchers discovered tree resin from Asia, cedar oil from Lebanon, and bitumen from the Dead Sea.
  • The procedure could take up to 70 days.
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Paris: A study published Wednesday revealed that the discovery of dozens of beakers and bowls in a mummification studio helped reveal how ancient Egyptians embalmed their dead, with some “surprising” substances imported from as far away as Southeast Asia.

The extraordinary collection of pottery, dating from roughly 664-525 BC, was discovered in 2016 at the bottom of a 13-meter (42-foot) well at the Saqqara Necropolis south of Cairo.

Researchers discovered tree resin from Asia, cedar oil from Lebanon, and bitumen from the Dead Sea inside the vessels, demonstrating how global trade enabled embalmers to get the greatest components from around the world.

The Ancient Egyptians created a remarkable procedure for embalming corpses, believing that if bodies were maintained undamaged, they would be able to enter the afterlife.

The procedure could take up to 70 days. The body was desiccated with natron salt, and the lungs, stomach, intestines, and liver were removed. The brain also emerged.

The embalmers then cleansed the body and applied a variety of substances to keep it from rotting, followed by priests.

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However, the specifics of how this was accomplished have mostly been lost to time.

By analyzing the residue in 31 ceramic vessels discovered at the Saqqara mummification workshop, a team of academics from Germany’s Tuebingen and Munich universities, in partnership with the National Research Centre in Cairo, has uncovered some answers.

They were able to determine which chemicals were utilized by matching the residue to containers recovered in nearby graves.

To make his odour more appealing

The chemicals exhibited “antifungal, antibacterial qualities” that helped “preserve human tissues and minimize unpleasant odours,” according to the study’s chief author, Maxime Rageot, during a news conference.

The vessels are labeled, which is useful. “To wash,” reads the label of one bowl, while another says: “to make his odour nice”.

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The skull received the most care with three separate concoctions — one of which was branded “to put on his head”.

“We’ve known the names of several of these embalming components since ancient Egyptian inscriptions were deciphered,” said Egyptologist Susanne Beck in a Tuebingen University statement.

“However, until today, we could only speculate what compounds were hidden beneath each moniker.”

The labels also assisted Egyptologists in clarifying some of the names of the drugs.

The meager information we have regarding the mummification process comes primarily from an ancient papyrus, with Greek authors like as Herodotus frequently filling up the gaps.

The researchers discovered that the word “antiu,” which has historically been translated as myrrh or frankincense, can actually represent a blend of several different chemicals by detecting the residue in their new bowls.

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The antiu bowl in Saqqara had a mixture of cedar oil, juniper or cypress oil, and animal fats.

Embalming was the driving force behind ‘globalisation.’

The discovery demonstrated that the ancient Egyptians had amassed “enormous knowledge gathered through centuries of embalming,” according to Philipp Stockhammer of Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology.

For example, they knew that if the body was removed from the natron salt, it would be “colonized by bacteria that would eat up the skin,” he explained.

“One of the most startling finds,” according to Stockhammer, was the presence of resins like dammar and elemi, which likely came from tropical woods in Southeast Asia, as well as evidence of Pistacia, juniper, cypress, and olive trees from the Mediterranean.

The variety of ingredients “shows us that the embalming industry” drove momentum for “globalization,” according to Stockhammer.

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It also demonstrates that “Egyptian embalmers were very interested in experimenting and gaining access to additional resins and tars with unique qualities,” he says.

From circa 2000 BC, the embalmers are said to have taken advantage of a commerce route that arrived in Egypt via present-day Indonesia, India, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea.

Ramadan Hussein, a Tuebingen University archaeologist who died last year before the discovery was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, directed the Saqqara excavation.

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