Go to the Egyptian Dreams shop
Egyptian Dreams
Ancient Egypt Discussion Board
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Extreme Mummy Makeovers

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Egyptian Dreams Forum Index -> Mummification
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
kmt_sesh
Moderator
Moderator


Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 7099
Location: Chicago, IL

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 2:23 am    Post subject: Extreme Mummy Makeovers Reply with quote

Lately I've been delving back into my favorite subject on ancient Egypt: mummification. I'm currently reading a fantastic book by Salima Ikram and Aidan Dodson called Mummy in Ancient Egypt: Equipping the Dead for Eternity (Thames & Hudson, 1998, ISBN: 0500050880). This is a very comprehensive study on Egyptian mummification and I highly recommend it.

I've been particularly enjoying the information on how the ancient embalmers added cosmetic or corrective touches to certain mummies. At the Field Museum in Chicago we have just such an example, the mummy of Menhotep. Her style of wrappings, funerary mask, and the usage of tar instead of resin suggest a body from the Ptolemaic Period, but her physical remains reveal she is over 700 years older than that--dating to the end of the New Kingdom or start of the Third Intermediate Period. Sometime after her death, Menhotep's grave was violated and her body severely damaged. When priests of Greek times came upon her, they rewrapped what was left of her (from the waist down) and used straw to form the remainder of the body; they provided her a new mask (in which they left us her name) and used the bitumen as a binding agent.

Menhotep is just one example, and a fairly simple one. By the dawn of the New Kingdom the mummification skills of the ancient Egyptians were reaching their "classic" stage. For instance, the positioning of the arms was becoming standardized. For the burials of commoners (both men and women) it was the practice to place the arms straight along the sides, with the hands over the genitals. As for royalty, from Amunhotep I on, kings' arms were crossed over the chest with fists clenched to hold the royal scepters; a slight modification was made from Seti I on, when numerous kings had their hands flat open but the arms still crossed. For the most part royal women kept their arms along their sides with their hands over their pudenda. An exception is the unusual positioning of the mummy thought to be of Queen Tiye, chief wife of Amunhotep III, mother of Akhenaten, and possbibly the grandmother of Tutankhamun. Her right arm is straight but her left is crossed over the chest. It seems there is growing evidence that this is in fact not the body of Tiye; Dodson and Ikram argue that it is the body of a royal woman belonging to the family of Amunhotep II (and unfortunately that's all they say on the matter Mad ).

Cosmetic enhancements are particularly evident on mummies of the New Kingdom. Balding women have hair implants woven into their thinning natural hair, and the nails of royal mummies in particular are hennaed. Henna was of course also often used on the hair, and it's thought that some mummies found with unusually blond hair may have arrived at this state due to a chemical reaction between the henna and mummification chemicals. Two classic examples of this are the mummies of Ramesses II and Yuya, Queen Tiye's father and a descendant of biblical Joseph (well, it said that last part on a web page I just read, so it must be true, right?). Check out Yuya's facial hair--even it is golden blond.

From the 19th Dynasty on, black lines were drawn across the forehead to indicate the hair line, and similar lines were sometimes drawn to emphasize the eyebrows. From the start of the New Kingdom "eyes" were drawn on patches of linen and placed over the eyelids as replacements for the dried, withered eyeballs within the orbits. Sometimes little onions were inserted into the orbits to restore the natural spherical shape of the eyeballs, as was the case with the mummy of Ramesses IV. Fingernails and toenails were often tied to the digits to make certain they would stay on the body after the natron desiccation, which caused the bodily tissue to shrink and retract. And the mummy of Ramesses II, one of the finest preserved bodies of all, still has that striking patrician nose because the embalmers stuffed it with seeds and an animal bone to restore its shape. (The excerebration, or removal of the brain, otherwise destroyed the cartilage of the nose, which is why the noses of so many Egyptian mummies are flattened.) Also, take another look at the mummy of Ramesses IV. Not to be indelicate, but does he not appear quite...um...er...well endowed? That's not by accident. The phalli of some mummies are stuffed in such a way as to be fully erect, as a vivid symbol of fertility; the same was done to the phallus of Tut before it broke off. Ouch. Confused

Mummification reached its peak in the 21st Dynasty, at the start of the Third Intermediate Period. The embalmers of this time were particularly skilled with both the preparation and repair of mummies. This is particularly evident with the famous cache of royal mummies found near Deir el Bahri (DB 320). Some of these royal bodies had been horribly damaged by tomb robbers before they were removed from their original tombs and secreted away at Deir el Bahri. The body of Princess Sitamun, for example, was so badly destroyed that all that was left to the restorers of Dynasty 21 was a skull and a few broken bones; they used three palm sticks to reform the axis of her body. And the body of Ramesses IV was so damaged that they had to tie various parts of the corpse to part of the coffin to hold it together. The mummy of Tuthmosis III was one of the worst of all; the embalmers had to use narrow wooden splints to keep it from falling apart

The 21st Dynasty was when the ancient embalmers strove to make the preserved body as lifelike as possible. To do so they made slits in the skin over various parts of the body and inserted semi-liquid mud, sawdust, or other substances to restore a lifelike appearance to the body. In the early part of the dyansty this was usually done only to the head, as was the case with the body of Pinudjem I. And then there's his wife, Henttawy, probably the most famous example of this stuffing technique--and how it can go wrong. Her face was overstuffed, and as the skin shrank, the skin split open. She was recently restored, as can be seen in the link.

The Rhind Magical Papyrus tells us that there were to be 17 incisions throughout the body for this stuffing technique: 7 in the head, 4 in the thorax, 2 in the arms, 2 in the legs, 1 in the abdomen, and 1 in the back. In reality most bodies from this period have only a few incisions, and they don't always conform to the Rhind; some incisions are found in the feet to restore their shape, but curiously, there is only one mummy who had incisions in its hands to restore them. The same slit that was used for the evisceration (in the left flank) was often used to stuff the neck, pelvis, and trunk.

Beginning with the 22nd Dynasty mummification skills gradually declined. This elaborate stuffing of the corpse did not last long, and the highest skills of mummification were lost.

Is anyone awake now? Shocked I know, I've gone overboard again, but this is exactly the kind of thing that most interests me.
_________________


Visit my blog!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
anneke
Queen of Egypt
Queen of Egypt


Joined: 23 Jan 2004
Posts: 9305

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Sometime after her death, Menhotep's grave was violated and her body severely damaged. When priests of Greek times came upon her, they rewrapped what was left of her (from the waist down) and used straw to form the remainder of the body;

I have seen the same thing done to other mummies. There's a mummy in one of the mummy caches which pretty much contains a skull and some bones, and the rest is reeds. The bundle was given a roughly mummiform shape. This is supposed to be the body of a Princess Sitamen.

This type of restoration does show how much they valued the mummification process though.

Quote:
It seems there is growing evidence that this is in fact not the body of Tiye; Dodson and Ikram argue that it is the body of a royal woman belonging to the family of Amunhotep II

That's a very old theory actually. Isn't the argument something along the lines that there are no signs of rewrapping? Thereby suggesting that the mummies may be original to the tomb?
It does leave us with the fact though that a lock of her hair was found in Tut's tomb. And that craniomorphology strongly suggests she is related to Tuya, the mother of Tiye.
It could open up a new round of speculation by postulating the theory that this is the mother of Tuya, instead of her daughter. In this case the lock of hair could still be a family heirloom Wink

Quote:
Is anyone awake now? I know, I've gone overboard again, but this is exactly the kind of thing that most interests me.

LOL I enjoyed it...
_________________
Math and Art: http://mathematicsaroundus.blogspot.com/
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kmt_sesh
Moderator
Moderator


Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 7099
Location: Chicago, IL

PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I have seen the same thing done to other mummies. There's a mummy in one of the mummy caches which pretty much contains a skull and some bones, and the rest is reeds. The bundle was given a roughly mummiform shape. This is supposed to be the body of a Princess Sitamen.


Yes, that was supposedly Sitamun. I mentioned her in the midde of the sixth paragraph in my original post. (Sixth paragraph?...man, maybe I did go into too much detail!) All the 21st Dynasty embalmers had to work with was a skull and some broken bones, and they used three palm sticks to reform the axis of her body.

Quote:
That's a very old theory actually. Isn't the argument something along the lines that there are no signs of rewrapping?


I wasn't aware of that. I had thought this theory was, if not conclusive, then quite compelling. Well, I learn something every day. Very Happy I've never been too sure on what precisely the evidence is linking her to the lock of hair in Tut's tomb. Have sophisticated tests been performed on the hair lock to compare it with the hair of this mummy, or is this idea based on "looks" alone? There must be something more to it. I think it's just as likely that this lock of hair was a precious family heirloom, as you mentioned.

In my original post I wrote that the substances used to stuff and pack the bodies of 21st Dyansty mummies was semi-liquid mud, sawdust, or the like. Last night I was reading more about the particular case of Henttawy and her unfortunate outcome. Dodson and Ikram record that for her the embalmers used a mixture of fat and soda. They used so much of this stuff that it caused her skin to split as it dried and retracted. I have to wonder what exactly the authors mean by "soda"? That's interesting.

Dodson and Ikram mention a rather humorous mummy that yielded unexpected results when unwrapped in modern times. The body was upside-down in its wrappings! Best as they can figure, when this man was being mummified, the embalmers got distracted for some reason midway through the wrapping. Returning to the job they could no longer tell if the half-wrapped body before them was lying on its stomach or its back. To keep up appearances, they used lots of linen padding to form the protrusions of the feet, arms, and chin. Turns out they guessed wrong and buried the poor guy on his stomach.

I hope his ba didn't get confused as it departed for the netherworld! Shocked
_________________


Visit my blog!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
radiant1withtuba
Citizen
Citizen


Joined: 23 Oct 2009
Posts: 1
Location: Toronto, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:48 am    Post subject: Decline in the 22nd Dynasty? I think much later Reply with quote

Very Happy
I have worked on the imaging of two 22nd Dynasty Mummies. Both were workers in the Temple of Amun at Karnak. They died around 850BC

These mummies were very well preserved. Skin, vessels within foramina, dural sac, orbital contents were all visible on CT Scan.

I would agree that as time passed, the art of mummification was most definitely lost. I have also been involved with the CT Scanning of two greco-roman mummies...and their preservation was much less than the 22nd Dynasty individuals.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Egyptian Dreams Forum Index -> Mummification All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group