What do you think of when someone says archaeology? Most people tend to think of dinosaurs or Ancient Egyptian mummies. While archaeology is much more than these two fields, dinosaurs and Ancient Egyptian mummies are the first things that come to mind when archaeology is mentioned due to the mysterious, almost other-worldly, aspect that they present to the modern world. This post will focus on the mummification process for Egyptian pharaohs in Ancient Egypt and the life and death of King Tutankhamen.
The Mummification Process
During the reign of a pharaoh, the construction of the burial place would begin before the actual death. Most often times these burial places were known as the modern day pyramids. After the pharaoh died, the mummification process would begin. The entire mummification process can be viewed at the British Museum website at this link: http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/mummies/story/main.html. The Egyptians practiced the evisceration of bodily organs from the body after the announcement of death. However, instead of removing all the organs the heart was the only organ that was left within the body. This process was much like the practice of burying entrails and other body parts in separate places as described in Weiss-Krejci’s article from 2005 titled “Excarnation, Evisceration, and Exhumation in Medieval and Post-Medieval Europe” . After the mummification process was completed, a funeral would be held for the mourners, followed by the “Opening of the Mouth” ceremony where an incision would be made at the mouth of the mummy in order to aid in the afterlife. Meskell cites John Baines in his “The Egyptian Ways of Death” (2001) as stating that through the construction of the pyramid, the rituals directly after the death of the pharaoh, the funeral and burial of the pharaoh, and the rituals that may take place afterward, the idea of death was dispersed over the population rather than just including a few people closest to the pharaoh (John Baines 1991). This is much like many political leaders throughout history where, upon their death, the entire population may mourn.
The pharaoh, after going through the enduring process of mummification and burial, was believed to begin his, or her, trip through the Underworld where his, or her, heart would be judged. Depending on the outcome, the pharaoh’s heart would then either be eaten by Ammit, the monster of the Underworld, or the pharaoh could continue to the “Field of Reeds” where he would reside for the rest of eternity. All of this information was found on the website “Mummification” by The British Museum. This website provides a great view of the mummification process as well as an interactive guide in the afterlife. Please check it out! http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/mummies/story/main.html
The famous “Boy Pharaoh”, also known as King Tut, was uncovered by Howard Carter in 1922 (http://www.kingtutone.com/tutankhamun/) . Mystery still circles this famous young pharaoh. Did he simply die, or was he murdered? Why was he not buried in a more elaborate tomb? Questions abound about this mysterious young pharaoh. The question of his death is in part due to the type of tomb in which he was buried. Rather than a large, elaborate tomb like many other pharaohs, King Tutankhamen’s tomb was small and was placed within three coffins. When archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb in 1922, much of the possessions were still intact which included numerous pieces of jewelery, amulets, and a small number of paintings. These paintings are often perceived by others to have magical powers suggesting that the mummy inside the tomb could return to life and seek revenge. Other rooms inside the tomb were crammed with furniture statuary, clothes, chariots, weapons, staffs, and numerous other objects (History.com). The reason for these valued possessions could be the Egyptian belief that the Pharaoh could take these items with them in his or her afterlife. Some believe that the tomb was actually meant for someone else but used for King Tutankhamen at his untimely death (KingTutOne.com). This is one reason, some believe, that the tomb was not looted as much as the other, larger tombs. In addition, since the death of the pharaoh did not seem anticipated, the question arises to what was the exact cause of death?
The entire process of mummification was painstakingly done because Ancient Egyptians believed that their pharaohs journey into and through the afterlife relied upon a proper mummification so that the pharaoh could eventually re-inhabit his body. The tombs were built to help protect the pharaoh after mummification. Everything done to a pharaoh’s body after death was to help aid and protect him in the afterlife so that his heart would not be eaten by Ammit. As Meskell states in his article “The Egyptian Ways of Death” (2001), Ancient Egyptians believed that parts of their body lived on in the afterlife and would help them in their travels through the afterlife.
Check out this video about the mystery surrounding King Tut’s death!!!!!!
Today, many people worldwide travel long distances just to see this famous Egyptian pharaoh. It is believed that his tomb is cursed and mythical beliefs suggest that those involved with the discovery of his tomb died shortly after their discovery. However, much of the truth and fiction are blended into contemporary stories surrounding King Tut. So much mystery enshrouds King Tutankhamen due to his death, the question of how he died, and his age of ascendency to pharaoh and young age at death. His death is looked as This mystery draws millions of people in. This young pharaoh, King Tutankhamen, will forever be a wonder to the world.
Another interesting video on the mummification process!!!!!!!!
The British Museum, . “Mummification Story.” Mummification. The British Museum, n.d. Web. 26 Mar 2012.
Destination 360. 2012. Photograph. n.p. Web. 26 Mar 2012. <http://www.destination360.com/africa/egypt/ancient-egypt>.
Meskell, Lynn. “The Egyptian Ways of Death.” (2001): n. page. Web. 29 Mar. 2012. <https://collab.itc.virginia.edu/access/content/group/d6f4c969-e57b-4e05-8721-ef759d347065
N.d. Photograph. n.p. Web. 26 Mar 2012. <http://www.site-ology.com/egypt/KT.HTM>.
“Tutankhamun.” King Tut. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar 2012. <http://www.kingtutone.com/tutankhamun/>.
“Tutankhamen Video.” History.com. A&E Television Networks. Web. 29 Mar. 2012. <http://www.history.com/topics/tutankhamen/videos>.
Weiss-Krejci, Estella. “Excarnation, Evisceration, and Exhumation in Medieval and Post-Medieval Europe.” (2005): n. page. Web. 29 Mar. 2012. <https://collab.itc.virginia.edu/access/content/group/d6f4c969-e57b-4e05-8721-ef759d347065/Weiss-Krejci_2005.pdf>.
2000-2011. Photograph. Royalty Free PicturesWeb. 26 Mar 2012. <http://historylink101.net/egypt_1/rf-k-egyptian-mummy.htm>.