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Egyptian mummy, Egypt, 343-69 BCE

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This Egyptian mummy is thought to be the body of a child. It dates from the Ptolemaic period (343-69 BCE). Mummification was a religious practice to preserve the body of the deceased. The body would then be entombed with their worldly goods for use in the next life. It involved removing most internal organs. The heart remained because it is believed to be the seat of all emotions. The body cavity was cleaned and then packed with an absorbent salt-based material called natron. The removed organs were stored in canopic jars. These were placed with the mummy in the tomb or returned to the body after wrapping. After 40 days the body was cleaned again, coated in resin and wrapped in strips of linen. Amulets were placed with the body for further protection. The mummification process took 70 days for the most important in society. Ceremonies then restored the deceased’s powers to see, hear, speak and move in their new existence.

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