Linen bag of salt for mummification

From Deir el-Bahari, Egypt
New Kingdom, 1550-1070 BC

In its most developed form, the mummification process took seventy-two days. To prevent the body from decaying and becoming merely a skeleton, the internal organs were removed. The brain was not regarded as important, and was thrown away. The heart, considered by the ancient Egyptians to be the seat of wisdom and personality, was left in its place. The lungs, liver, stomach and intestines were removed for separate mummification.

The body was then rinsed with sweet oils, and packed with materials such as rags and sawdust so that it retained its shape. Bags of salt or natron were often included to aid the drying process. More natron was piled on and around the body. The Greek historian Herodotus (about 485-425 BC), in his description of the types of mummification available in the mid-fourth century BC, states that only natron was used. However, scientific analysis of the minerals found in the bags, and in the mummies themselves, show that salt was just as commonly used as natron.

The desiccation (drying) of the body took forty days. All the drying agents and stuffing were removed, and the latter replaced with linen wads, sawdust or other materials to recreate the recognizable shape of the body for bandaging. The soiled materials were bundled up and included in the burial, as they still contained elements of the deceased.

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Linen bag of salt for mummification

Bag of salt to dry out body


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Height: 14.800 cm
Diameter: 11.600 cm (max.)

Museum number

EA 43218


Gift of the Egypt Exploration Fund


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