The ritual process of making mummies, were central to the ancient Egyptian burial practices dating from about 2600 BC. e., still remains poorly understood. Reliable description does not exist, as there is no consensus at the expense of what substances and materials used in embalming. Most often makes reference to Herodotus, who visited Egypt in the V century. BC. e. and in one of his historical works left a sample list, which included a mixture of salt, myrrh, cedar oil and other ingredients. However, with all due respect to the "father of history", many scientists are not too inclined to trust his testimony. It is extremely doubtful that Herodotus was present at mummification, or at least talking to themselves priests and embalmers. They are unlikely to share their secrets with a stranger. Most likely, the Greek historian, received second-hand information, which could not but affect the accuracy and detail of description. Beginning in the late XVIII century, scientists have undertaken to check the documentary evidence.
Archaeologists began to cut the dried bodies up and down, spoil many mummies, but never having achieved almost useless. Noticeable results appeared only when the bodies were embalmed specimens in modern chemical laboratorii.Poslednim time and the biggest was a study conducted by Richard Evershed (Richard Evershed) and Stephen Buckley (Stephen Buckley) from the University of Bristol. The complex analysis of samples isolated from 13 mummies, made between 1985 BC. e. at 395 n. e., chemists have identified a whole bunch of various protective and aromatic substances. First of all, in embalming the body is dehydrated by the salt mixtures. Then the corpse, which was to be held in the Millennium crude tomb, processed oils, mostly plant, though tests also showed the presence of animal fats and some obraztsah.Dalneyshuyu moisture and bacteria provides pine resin and wax, which over time, according to its concentration in later mummies used more widely. In general, scientists significantly improved their formula Herodotus, setting only overlaps with its list. It is likely that some of the components eventually completely evaporated, leaving behind no trace, however, completely unexpected was the lack of bitumen. These organic substances derived primarily from petroleum and its derivatives, the widely rasprostanennoy version actively used for embalming in the Middle East, where "black gold" is found in abundance. The word "mummy" is often associated with mumiyah – Arab designation of bitumen.
Meanwhile only embalmed bodies, relating to the period of Roman rule in Egypt, the chemists found minor traces of the compound, which was used as a water-repellent agent. As for etymological research, then you can do without a trace of the Arabic: the Coptic dictionary by the word wax mum.Evershed and Buckley called his work the first systematic study of organic material extracted from the mummy is well known age and origin. A few studies of this kind, carried out earlier, based on the study of only one or two embalmed bodies. Increasing the number of samples analyzed has enabled technology to trace its development over a considerable period of time. A further increase in the number of publications on this topic is associated with the spread of benign methods of analysis that allows to collect the necessary material without damaging the appearance of the mummies and not breaking their safety.
Gone are the days when the embalmed body unfolded in front of crowds of curious spectators. Nevertheless, many collections, especially a lot of mummies are in the Cairo Museum, remain inaccessible to Egyptologists for the very reason that the museum curators do not tolerate rough handling with precious exhibits. Chemists, seeking only the finest specimens for analysis, presumably, will be more willing to let the store.