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Mummification Period

 
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Diorite
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 8:00 pm    Post subject: Mummification Period Reply with quote

I read in a less-than-authoritative source that the mummification period is 70 days because this is the length of time that the star Sirius isn't visible. At the end of the 70 days Sirius can be seen rising just before the sun, signifying the start of the inundation. Can anybody verify this?

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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. As an astronomy fan, I'm interested in theories like this. It could be true, but it could be just a theory, albeit a nice one. I know the Egyptians thought of Sirius as a sacred star, linked to Isis, and of course we all know the connection with the Nile and the new year. I think the Egyptians were much more knowledgable with astronomy than we think.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a hard time finding an authorative source as well.
The closest is this:
Quote:
This 70-day limit for embalming is perhaps derived from the 70-day disappearance and reappearance cycle of the star Sirius. Sirius was associated with Osiris, god of the After world, who like the star vanished for 70 days before being resurrected. Egyptians might imitate this cycle of time and used it with their dead people to guarantee that they would be resurrected.


It's from Egypt Magazine.
http://www.sis.gov.eg/public/magazine/iss021e/html/mag03.htm

It doesn't say who wrote the piece or what their sources were.

I do like the fact that they mention that this time period is perhaps derived from the cycle of the star Sirius.

It does sound like a reasonable theory I think.

A page from the University of Oklahoma mentions:
Quote:
Egyptian inscriptions describe the last appearance of Sirius in the night sky as its death; its daytime invisibility as purification in the embalming house of the nether world; and its rising with the Sun as a resurrection. Accordingly they calibrated the process of mummification to this celestial cycle, completing it in exactly 70 days.

But again no source that tells us where this inscription can be found Confused

See: http://hsci.cas.ou.edu/exhibits/exhibit.php?exbgrp=3&exbid=20&exbpg=81
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those seem like trustworthy sources-a university and the Egyptian tourist board. There is one little blooper though:

Quote:
Sirius was associated with Osiris


Actually, Sirius was linked to Isis. Osiris was linked with Orion.
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Diorite
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2005 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! That means that the person who wrote what I read didn't just make it up. It is a nice theory, as Isisinacrisis says. And the idea of the "rebirth" of Sirius is a nice tie-in with the inundation, which results in the rebirth of the land from the flood.

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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've come across the Sirius theory myself and have never read anything definitive about it. Anneke's quote from Egypt Magazine was careful in putting in that clarifier "perhaps," wasn't it?

Osiris was indeed associated with Sirius. His constellation was Orion, as isisinacrisis wrote, but Sirius (Sopdet to the Egyptians, Sothis to the Greeks) was referred to as "the bringer of the New Year" because her rising signalled the approach of the innundation; from earliest times Osiris was tied in with the resurgence of the Nile and its implied life and fertility, so it's a short stretch to see how Sothis and Osiris were associated. In the Pyramid Texts they even joined as a couple and produced a child: the bright nighttime blob we call Venus. But Isis was identified even more closely with Sothis, to the point that she was occasionally worshiped as the merged goddess Isis-Sothis.

We have to remember with mummification, though, that this 70-day period was afforded to only the wealthy and privileged. Very few people would have been lucky enough to have received a full 70-day mummification. We're not even sure how long it took to mummify someone in the Old Kingdom; all we know for certain is that they weren't very good at it yet. The 70-day period was achieved by the Middle Kingdom: 40 days for the evisceration and desiccation, and 30 days for the wrapping.
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