The origins, rise, and demise of mummification in ancient Egypt
For nearly 4,000 years, the Egyptians interred their dead through the art of mummification. This practice symbolized the Egyptian belief in death and the afterlife. Beginning around the sixth dynasty, a cult devoted to Osiris, the god of the underworld, began to gain strength and popularity throughout all of Egypt. As expressed in the Pyramid Texts and later the Coffin Texts, Osiris judged the heart of the deceased and determined whether or not they passed into the afterlife. Without mummification, the dead could not reincarnate, and without Osiris, mummification lost its purpose. The Egyptians, therefore, lived their lives in preparation for death, which shows the significance of mummification. Was religion the only catalytic factor affecting mummification, or were there political dimensions as well? We know the names of the more powerful and elaborate rulers because of their actions in life and the amount of scholarship created and recorded in their names. Were the bodies of these rulers embalmed in the traditional way, or did the traditional way evolve to match their character in life? In other words, do the politics in each era contribute to the intricacies of the embalming practice? By examining historic periods from 3300 BCE - AD 400, this thesis shows the gradual evolution of embalming from practicality to a decorative art in a religious and political forum.
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Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Sciences
Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences;Embalming -- Egypt;History, Ancient -- Egypt -- Civilization;Mummies;Mummies -- Egypt;Osiris (Egyptian deity)
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Barraclough, Alexa K., "The origins, rise, and demise of mummification in ancient Egypt" (2001). HIM 1990-2015. 219.