In case you’ve ever wondered how to make a mummy, get ready to find out - and possibly gag a little. For some, the word "mummy" conjures up images of linen wrapped, brainless creatures who return from the dead to curse those who dare disturb their slumber. But that's the stuff of Hollywood fantasy. When it comes to the facts on how to mummify a body, the real-life details are pretty disgusting.
Sometimes mummification occurs naturally. The mummies discovered in the peat bogs of northern Europe and preserved bodies found on glaciers come to mind. But there are other, exceptionally gross ways to make a mummy. The ancient Egyptians had some seriously disgusting mummification steps and they weren’t the only ones. The premise is essentially the same across many cultures: a dead body needs to be preserved in a somewhat recognizable human form.
Curious? Repulsed? Read on to discover some of the grossest ways to make a mummy.
As if removing a brain from a human body wasn’t gross enough, the ancient Egyptian mummification process required the brain to be pulled out through the nostrils. In order to prevent any disfigurement of the face, embalmers would have to carefully reach a hook up through the nasal passageway, poke it into the brain to break it up, and drag the bits of brain tissue back out through the nose.
Removal of all internal organs was a necessary evil in order to make a mummy. First, an incision was made along the left side of the abdomen and anything that decayed rapidly was taken out. Specifically, the intestines, lungs, liver, and the stomach all had to be pulled out and washed off.
After the organs were harvested and washed, they were then packed in natron to dry out. Natron is a salt and baking soda mixture that absorbs fat and moisture. Usually, each organ was placed in its own box or canopic jar to be preserved separately. The heart was either left inside the body, or wrapped separately and replaced, because it was considered to hold a person’s essence and intelligence. The brain was considered useless and thrown out.
Once the organs were removed, the body cavity was cleaned out, doused with palm wine, and then rinsed again in a blend of pounded spices. After all the gunk was scraped out and the spice rub was completed, the empty body was filled back up with aromatic substances like crushed myrrh and cassia.