Human remains wrapped in linen
Old Kingdom, Dynasty V (ca. 2400 BC)
Provenance: Gebelein, Schiaparelli excavations, 1911
Inv. Nr. S.13966
One can only imagine the museum director’s excitement on the day he and his team discovered the entrance to an unplundered tomb in Gebelein. The rock-cut tomb was built with three chambers, only two of which housed sarcophagi. The present mummy was located inside a stone coffin in the largest room, along with two other coffins. The planks used for lifting and transporting one of the coffins were left nearby, along with the ropes. The tomb was equipped with loaves of bread, a wooden boat, more than 30 clay pots, plates and a stoppered vase, wooden chests filled with textiles, bandages, wooden head-rests, sandals, a footed alabaster plate and an amphora with a broken spout sitting in a basin. Thus, objects of daily life (also a luxury alabaster plate), food offerings and clothing, which were necessary to make the journey to the Afterlife, were associated with each of the three burials.The unnamed deceased, a mature man measuring 158 cm tall, from the stone coffin was mummified, but with his arms and legs wrapped separately. The process of mummification was a long procedure requiring some 70 days that had developed over time. Essentially, the body was washed several times, the inner organs were removed and treated separately (the brain was probably discarded altogether), the body dehydrated by filling it with dry natron, the body was washed again and the cranium, abdominal and thoracic cavities were filled with natron in bags or the treated viscera could be replaced in the cavity. The incisions were then sewn up, or covered with wax, the body was washed again, dried with linen and massaged with salves so that it remained pliant. The wrapping of the mummy, often with hundreds of meter of linen, would follow, some of the layers being made secure by pouring molten wax over them. Amulets were strategically positioned within the layers. Sometimes the bandaged mummy was plastered over the face, but here, details are painted directly on the bandages over the face.