The Ritual of Embalming Papyrus

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The Ritual of Embalming Papyrus or Papyrus of the Embalming Ritual is one of only two extant papyri which detail anything at all about the practices of mummification used within the burial practices of Ancient Egyptian culture.

One version of the papyri is held in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo (Pap. Boulaq No.3) and the other is in the Louvre (No. 5158).[1][2]

The papyri[edit]

The papyrus in Cairo was discovered in 1857, within a tomb in Thebes. It represents the last ten pages of a work of which all other pages are lost; of these, eight were in a good condition.[1][2]

The Louvre papyrus gives the same information as is found on the last two pages of the Cairo document.[2]

Both are copies made in hieratic script, with Demotic notation, during the Roman period, and were copied from a single earlier text.[2][3]

The papyri probably date to the 1st century AD and contain specifically information on eleven acts of anointing of the body, the wrapping and placing of internal organs, which had been treated, inside canopic jars, and the act of performing the bandaging of the embalmed corpse to create a mummy.[3][4][5]

The ritual[edit]

The act of mummification described was to be done while prayers and incantations were performed ritualistically.[6]

Persons necessarily present and participating within a performance of the ritual were a master of secrets or stolist (both refer to the same person), a lector, and a divine chancellor or seal-bearer (hetemu-netjer). Of the persons present, the individual who was the hery-sheshta fulfilled the most important and superior position, the hetemu-netjer was next in importance, then the wetiu, who were to wrap the embalmed corpse in material.[3][4]

The text proceeds in the direction of the embalming the head, toward the feet.[3]

The head was to be wrapped firstly in linen, of this first linen, the embalmer was to obtain the linen from Sais, with a second layer added afterwards.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Robert (Bob) Brier, Ronald S. Wade - Surgical Procedures during ancient Egyptian Mummification Chungará (Arica) v.33 n.1 Arica ene. 2001 [Retrieved 2015-06-29] (ed. see also this link)
  2. ^ a b c d G.E.Smith & W.R.Dawson (2013-10-28). Egyptian Mummies Hb (first page of Chapter III). Routledge, 28 Oct 2013, 256 pages. ISBN 978-1136188855. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  3. ^ a b c d e Christina Riggs (2014-06-05). Unwrapping Ancient Egypt: The Shroud, the Secret and the Sacred (p.81). Bloomsbury Publishing 5 Jun 2014, 336 pages. ISBN 978-0857855077. Retrieved 2015-07-01.(ed. this source used to add < some Demotic notations, Papyrus of the Embalming Ritual, eleven acts, wrapping, >
  4. ^ a b Riggs, Christina (2010-01-22). Funerary rituals (Ptolemaic and Roman Periods) In Jacco Dieleman, Willeke Wendrich (eds.), UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Los Angeles. 1. UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology. Retrieved 2015-06-29.(permalink[permanent dead link])
  5. ^ Carol Andrews - Egyptian Mummies Harvard University Press 2004 (reprint, revised), 96 pages, ISBN 0674013913 [Retrieved 2015-06-30]
  6. ^ Anne Burton - Diodorus Siculus, Book 1: A Commentary (p.267) Études préliminaires aux religions orientales dans l'Empire romain, BRILL, 1973, 301 pages, ISBN 9004035141 [Retrieved 2015-06-30]