Ancient Egyptian mummification manual explains how to embalm faces
Scientists have found an ancient Egyptian instruction manual for embalming the faces of the dead. The manual was found in a 3,500-year-old medical manuscript known as the Papyrus Louvre-Carlsberg.
According to a statement from the University of Copenhagen on Friday, written references to Egyptian embalming practices for mummies are extremely rare. There had only been two known texts on the subject. “Egyptologists were therefore surprised to find a small textbook on embalming in a medical text that mainly deals with herbal medicine and swelling of the skin,” the university said.
The newly discovered papyrus predates previously known texts and delves into new territory with a detailed description of how to embalm faces.
“We get a list of ingredients for a remedy consisting largely of vegetable aromatic substances and binders that are cooked in a liquid, with which embalmers coat a piece of red linen,” said University of Copenhagen Egyptologist Sofie Schiodt who investigated the Louvre-Carlsberg Papyrus. “The red linen is then applied to the face of the deceased in order to enclose it in a protective cocoon of scented and antibacterial material.”
The manual also explains how the embalming procedures were to be carried out at four-day intervals. The whole process took 70 days.
Besides valuable information on the art of embalming, the papyrus “contains the oldest known herbal treatise”.
Part of the Louvre-Carlsberg Papyrus belongs to the Louvre Museum in Paris and another part belongs to the University of Copenhagen. It was once in private hands and some parts are missing. The document predates other known mummification texts by over a thousand years. Both organizations plan to publish the papyrus in 2022.