Homepage Timeline Maps A-Z index Learning

Mummies and Mummification: Old Kingdom

There are signs that already in the Naqada period bodies were treated for mummification (Friedman 1999a: 6-7). Especially in Early Dynastic Period and the Old Kingdom there seem to have been several experiments. Human bodies were wrapped in linen. Whether the body itself was treated is unknown. Canopic boxes, indicating the removal of the viscera, are attested from the early Fourth Dynasty (about 2600 - in the tomb of the queen's mother Hetepheres). Canopic jars are known from the end of the same dynasty. At the end of the Old Kingdom the first mummy masks appear.

There are several ways of a special body treatment in the Old Kingdom. However, the most common was simply to wrap the body in linen.

Stucco mummies The body was enclosed in fine linen and then covered in stucco plaster. The features of the body including the face were remodelled in plaster (Tacke 1996).
Linen mummies The body was wrapped in linen, which was sometimes treated with natron. The linen could also be treated with resin, so that the features of the body could be modelled. Sometimes details of the face were painted on the linen.
Defleshing All flesh was removed from the body and then the bones wrapped in linen. (Tacke 1996: 316).

the human remains in Meydum mastaba 17 | the skull from the tomb of Inti

Ikram/Dodson 1998: 109-113 (summary)


Mummification in:

Old Kingdom | Middle Kingdom | New Kingdom | Third Intermediate Period | Late Period to Coptic Period


Copyright © 2003 University College London. All rights reserved.