Today I was asked by the Director of the Museum, Mohamed Shet, to help him with the translation into English of a description he had written about the museum.
Mummification Museum, Luxor, Egypt
The museum opened 1997 and gives today’s visitor a detailed idea about the mummification process, the Ancient Egyptian concept of judgement & the afterlife and shows us some objects associated with mummification.
The word mummification is derived from Persian word (mummiya) which means bitumen and in Arabic and gives us the word mummification
The visit starts with scenes copied from an original papyrus (any and honfer) which is kept in the British Museum.
The ancient Egyptian believed that they will pass into the judgment hall immediately after the death and mummification. There is a balance where the heart of the deceased was weighed against the feather which was symbol of truth, the god of Thoth with ibis head holding reed and palette to write down the result of the weighting if the heart was heavier he was guilty, equal with the feather he will be safety to Osirian paradise.
The most important scene represents the judgment hall. We see the weighing of the heart on the scales. On one side of the balance we see his heart and on the other side we see the feather of Maat, symbol of the truth; if they were equal means he was not guilty.
The deceased passed safety to the paradise and appeared with white linen on a white sand island and goes to great lake which in the middle of the fields of the peace where great Gods sit and give him bread to eat and food of life .
We see Ani making offerings to the Gods, paddling a boat, handling oxen which tread the corn and adoring benu bird from funerary papyrus of (Ani 1250 B.C.)
We know if the deceased was guilty will go to lake of the fire which had four jets to absorb the blood of the criminals.
The burial scenes including the funeral procession, the men are carrying the funerary furniture including all the equipment of the deceased in the tomb. This scene copied from the tomb of Ramose on the West Bank of Luxor. Some followers are carrying as the funerary furniture which the deceased needs in the tomb.
.The sarcophagus is on a sledge, women were putting dust on their head with their loose hair. The funerary boat will carry the mummy to the west bank to the Goddess.
Isis mother of Horus, wife of Osiris collected his body after Seth had killed him and spread his body on the land of Egypt and she was goddess of great magic. Nephthys mother of Anubis, wife of Seth, sister of Isis. These two ladies were considered protective Goddess
The most important funerary ceremony was opening the mouth performed by the high priest with setp tool . When the priest or relatives speak his name the Ba returns to his body and can enjoy the offerings on hearing the call. Anubis has to protect the entrance of the burial chamber and he mummified the body of Osiris with the help of four sons of Hours and for this the Egyptian religion gave Anubis many titles like God of Mummification who protects the deceased.
The ancient Egyptian believed that the "Ba" spirit comes holding (shen) symbol of eternity.
Osiris was father of Horus brother of Isis and Nephthys and Seth and son of Gob and Nut was represents the first one who was mummified by Anubis the first one who was raised to the second life lord of judgment hall and god of death he was the most famous God of Egypt
This took place over 70 days and was presided over by the embalmers (High Priests) who were responsible for the mummification operation.
During the first 15 days firstly they transported the body of the deceased to the mummification House (pr nfr). Then they purified the body with water which they obtained from the sacred lake of temple. Inside any main temple e.g. Karnak there was sacred lake which was used for the cult purposes and the daily use of the priests. It was also used to wash the body of the deceased which was then dried using natron salt.
They placed the body on the operating table to extract the brain and viscera. They broke the ethmoid bone of the nose by chisel at the top of the nose with a chisel which gave them access into the skull cavity. And cut it using the spatula into small pieces and picked it out with a spoon. They made an incision in the left hand side of the abdominal cavity, which was about 10 cm long. Through this they removed the viscera. Various tools were used in this process. The embalmers used scissors during the cutting of the viscera from abdomen. The cutter was also used to extract the viscera.
These were mummified separately put into four canopic jars, often alabaster. They wrapped the viscera in a linen bandages.
The four sons of hours in the form of a mummy stand guard over the viscera
Imsety with human face to protect the liver
Duamutef with jackal's head to protect stomach
Hapy with baboon's head to protect lungs
Qebekh-sennuef with a falcon's head who protected the intestines
They put the temporary stuffing in the abdominal cavity (linen bags, spices, myrrh, resin, sawdust, cassia) and they covered the body with natron salt for 40 days to absorb the moisture.
During the last 15 days they removed the salt and changed the temporary stuffing with fresh stuffing. They covered all of the body with resin to protect against bacteria and to keep it in a good state of preservation. They anointed it with cedar oil.
The mouth and the nose were sealed with linen and molten resin, the body was wrapped with linen and bandages. They wrapped the body with 38m .of linen making 375 bandages between each layer they put an amulet. A scarab was put next to the heart and the deceased asked his heart not to say any bad things against him at the judgement. They drew on it Osiris god of the dead world. They covered the head and shoulder of the mummy with a mask. After that they put the wrapped body in a wooden coffin and then in a stone sarcophagus.
The last part was a ceremony conducted by the high priests called the Opening of the Mouth. Using the setp tool to touch the mouth of the deceased they gave him the gift of eternal afterlife and he is able to receive offerings.
The mummification process reached to the golden age during the 21st dynasty. In that period they cut an incision under the cheek and filled them with stuffing making them very life like.
The Ancient Egyptian believed that death means separation of the spirit from the body. The spirit then returns to the body and gives the deceased life again in the underworld. The name of the deceased was carved on the wall of the tomb to be written and said forever.
The remains of mummification's liquid: the Egyptian Expedition discovered the tomb of "Amon tef nakt” from 27th dynasty He was a General of the Army against Persians when he died. The embalmers mummified him and left all materials of mummification in the sarcophagus, the liquid came from result of the interaction between the material and the body.
These were the medical tools used by the embalmers.
Scissors: used to cut the end of the viscera from abdominal cavity, made from bronze 17th dynasty Thebes.
Chisel: used to break the ethmoid bone, made from bronze.
Spatula to remove and cut the brain, made from bronze.
Cutter: used to cut the viscera, made from bronze .the big one is from Abydos and the small one from Saqqara 18th dynasty.
Tweezers: made from bronze Talbasta. Roman period. Used to separate the viscera.
Puncher: one from Qurna – used to make incision in the bone, made from bronze.
Needle: used for sewing the incision in the body, made from bronze Tell el Gorab 19th dynasty.
Spoon: used to remove the brain.
Forceps: to separate the viscera.
Mummy of a fish. The ancient Egyptian believed that the fish represented rebirth, its cult centre was Esna and it is called Lattee fish
Mummy of baboon representing the god Thoth, God of knowledge he was always [present in the judgement hall standing by the balance holding the scribes palette and reed pen to record the result of weighting of the heart of the deceased .
Mummy of a cat: animal of the goddess Basted lady of Bubastis where magnificent temple was built for her, she was a daughter of Atum, she gives the power health joy
Mummy of ram: representing the god Khnum his cult centre was at Elephantine
Ushabti means “I answer” and can be made from gold, wood, faience or pottery. It is in the tomb to do the work for the deceased. May be in the afterlife the king asked him to fill the canal with the water, carry the sand from the west to the east then the figure has tools and replies “here I am ready”.
The Djed pillar amulet is a symbol of stability and representing back bone of God Osiris. It is the cedar tree which keeps the heart of Osiris inside it, as the legend has it. It also represented the columns which supported the heaven.
The head rest, they used it to protect the neck and it carries the name of the deceased.
The coffin consists of three parts. The lower part which contains the mummy with the mummy lying inside it. The mummy cover which takes the shape of the deceased. The coffin lid which showed the Gods of the underworld, the 'ba', the djed pillar, Nephthys with wings outstretched, Nephthys with sons of Hours all protecting the deceased.
The beautiful mummy cover of Padi Amun: the high priest of Amun with a beautiful wig and the goddess Nut with wings, representing the sky, receiving the deceased in the after world. The god keeper representing the Rebirth the cover is full of the bright colours and the mummy has a handsome face with bright eyes.
The mummy board of Masaherti: Without face and the hands because the thieves that found it took the golden face and hands 1871-1881 Representing the deceased with the different gods Nut with her wings at the end of the cover also the four sons of Horus. The name and titles of the deceased appear on the cover.
The Mummification Museum is also an important centre for the cultural and education life of Luxor, hosting a series of lectures sponsored by the SCA during the season. When visiting archaeologists talk about the latest discoveries and the work in Luxor. With a library and conservation centre it also plays a role in education of future Egyptologists. The local governor and city council use its 250 seat lecture theatre for important meetings. Finally a cafeteria to relax in after all that culture.