Origins of Egyptian mummy making may predate pyramids

Embalming mixture used to wrap bodies for burial appeared as early as 6,330 years ago

11:00am, August 18, 2014
woven material used for mummifiction

PRESERVED PRESERVATIVE  Woven material placed on an Egyptian corpse more than 5,000 years ago contains traces of the embalming substances that were also used much later to mummify dead pharaohs, researchers say.

Ancient Egyptians’ practice of mummifying the dead got its start as early as 6,330 years ago among groups that farmed and raised animals, a contested new study suggests. The find pushes back the use of resins and other embalming agents to about 1,500 years earlier than previously thought, well before the age of the pharaohs and pyramids.

Prehistoric communities that raised cattle, goats and sheep in central Egypt, between the Nile River and the Red Sea, wrapped their dead in linens. The fabric was soaked in the same preservative mixture that was used more than 3,000 years later, when mummification reached its zenith in ancient Egypt, says a team led by archaeologist Jana Jones of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.

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