2013/05/01

Ancient Egyptian Embalming

Ancient Egypt is famous for the customs they practiced and the rituals they observed. Among Egyptian traditions and practices, the most important and the most famous is the funerary process called mummification. They had exceptional beliefs about afterlife and the concept of rebirth and soul which they tried to exhibit through embalming process.

The nature of the process varied according to the social status of the individual.Embalming and the associated ceremonies were conducted by embalming priests. The process of embalming and mummification required that microbial growth and dehydration was inhibited.

Ancient Egyptian Embalming

The embalming process and creating a mummy was complicated and costly and was surrounded with ceremony and ritual.The process lasted for a period of 70 days. Cleansing and purification took 15 days. The corpse was to be dried for a period of 40 days. Wrapping, Bandaging and painting took 15 days. The embalmers tools included bronze hooks, knives, tweezers, needles and awls (a pointed tool) for opening, emptying and closing up the corpse.The mummification process which included the removal of organs was conducted on a special slightly slanted table which allowed the blood and bodily fluids to drain into a built in basin.

As soon as a person died, the body was taken to an embalming shop and the price was fixed for the procedure. The corpse was washed and ritually purified. It was washed with palm wine to kill bacteria and rinsed with water from the Nile. The corpse was then taken to the ibu, the 'place of purification'.A long hook was used to smash the brain and pull it out through the nose. Resin was poured into the brain which then solidified to prevent the skull from collapsing. Any fluid drained from the brain was discarded.

Ancient Egyptian Embalming
Ancient Egyptian Embalming

Ancient Egyptian Embalming

Ancient Egyptian Embalming

Ancient Egyptian Embalming
Ancient Egyptian Embalming

Ancient Egyptian Embalming

Ancient Egyptian Embalming

Brain was regarded as useless and probably thrown away.Then a slit was cut into the body and the inner organs; the intestines, the liver, the stomach and the lungs were removed and preserved in canopic jars. The canopic jars were filled with crystals of natron .The heart remained within the body because it was believed that the heart was to be weighed for the final judgment of the deceased.The body and the cavity in the abdomen were packed with small sacks of natron. It served to dry out the organs and discourage bacteria from decaying the tissues. The drying process took forty days, after which the natron was removed, inside and out, to reveal a dried, shrunken body.

The corpse was again cleaned with water; mummies were ritualistically anointed with oils and perfumes to help the skin stay elastic. The body is stuffed with dry materials such as sawdust, leaves and linen so that it looks lifelike.The body was adorned with gold, jewels and protective amulets. Fingers and toes were covered with protective gold caps and individually wrapped with long, narrow strips of linen. Finally the body is covered again with good-smelling oils. It is now ready to be wrapped in linen.Linen bandages were used to bind the extremities. The entire mummy was wrapped to a depth of about twenty layers.

The embalmers used resin to glue the layers of wrappings together. The wrapped head was covered with a mummy mask. The last layer of bandages went on and was given one last coating of resin.The very many rituals associated with embalming might have countless mysteries which the modern world may yet fail to perceive.

Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

Egyptians are well-known for their sense of beauty. Jewellery was used not only for beauty, but for the magical protection it provided.Immense treasures and jewellery were buried with the dead for use in afterlife and this was the main reason why Egyptian mummies were widely plundered. The first evidence of jewellery making in Ancient Egypt dates back to the 4th millennia BC, to the Pre dynastic Period.  As with other forms of Egyptian art design of jewellery followed strict rules to fulfil its religious role.

Ancient Egyptian Jewelry
Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

Any change in the representation of religious symbols resulted in a loss of protective value. Jewellery also indicated the social status of an individual .It was undesirable to change the designs of any objects such as the royal cartouches or crook and flail.Minerals and metals used to make jewellery were identified with specific deities and every colour had a mythological meaning. Colour green symbolised fertility and crops whereas colour red symbolised the need for blood by the god. Scarab amulets were symbolic of rebirth.  Most of the raw materials that were used to make jewellery were found in Egypt, but certain prized materials such as lapis lazuli were imported from Afghanistan.


Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

Ancient Egyptian Jewelry



Ancient Egyptian Jewelry


Gold was considered the skin of gods and was used widely among the people. Bronze was also preferred extensively. Sometimes, an alloy of Gold, Silver and Copper called "electrum" was used.The use of cold-worked glass in jewellery was the invention in the middle kingdom. In order to provide cheap materials for the lower social classes, Egyptian artisans invented the art of the fabulous fake, ancient artisans became so adept at crafting glass bead versions of precious stones that it was difficult to distinguish authentic emeralds, pearls and tigers-eye. Solidified glass was also formed into beads and amulets which were small figurines that were buried with the deceased.

The wearing of these religious items was widespread by both sexes alike. Since all people needed the protection it provided lower social classes made their amulets from cheap materials such as coloured clay and fake reproductions.Bracelets, Brooches, Clasps, Coronets, Girdles, Earrings - all constituted ancient Egyptian jewellery. Pectoral was an elaborate chest decoration item. There was also a unique headdress that formed a type of outer wig. Even mundane household objects like vases were made of hammered gold, festooned with jewels.

Ancient Egypt Coin

Gold coins remained the medium of exchange until 1898 when the National Bank of Egypt was established and was granted, by the government, the privilege to issue Egyptian banknotes, payable in gold for a period of 50 years. The National Bank of Egypt started issuing banknotes for the first time on the 3rd of April 1899.Consequently, the currency circulated in Egypt consisted of gold Sterling pounds and Egyptian banknotes convertible into gold.This situation continued up to 2/8/1914 when a special Decree was issued making Egyptian banknotes a legal tender and suspending their convertibility into gold.


Ancient Egypt Coin

Thus, the Egyptian pound banknote became the basic currency unit, and the base of the Egyptian monetary system was changed to fiduciary paper money standard. Accordingly, gold coins were no longer used in circulation, with the result that the volume of note issue increased from LE 11.6 million at the end of 1915 to LE 3557.0 million at the end of 1980, and further to LE 38320.0 million at the end of 1999. In 1930, for the first time in the history of Egyptian banknotes, a watermark was used in issued banknotes.

Ancient Egypt Coin


This was followed, towards the end of 1968, by using a metallic thread (in notes issued by the Central Bank of Egypt) as a guarantee against counterfeit instead of dependence on complexity of colours. Other features against counterfeit were found in the detailed specifications of each currency. Holograms are currently added to large denomination notes.On the 19th of July 1960, Law No.250 was promulgated. It was amended in November of the same year by Law No.277 with respect to the Central Bank of Egypt and the National Bank of Egypt. The Law provided for the establishment of the Central Bank of Egypt conferring upon the CBE the right of issuing Egyptian banknotes. Several changes were introduced with respect to the watermark, the designs shown on the notes and the colours.


The efforts of the Central Bank of Egypt in the field of note issue were culminated in the establishment of a printing plant for banknotes instead of printing them abroad. The plant's production of banknotes in different denominations started in December 1968. The Bank also served some Arab central banks in printing their banknotes.In view of the increasing need of banknotes to facilitate transactions resulting from the growth of economic activity, following the introduction of the open-door policy, the Central Bank of Egypt issued notes of large denominations (20,50,100). It launched the denomination of 20 pounds in May 1977 and 100 pounds in May 1979 and 50 pounds in March 1993.