this is about mummies.
December 14, 2006 8:40am CST
Intentionally prepared "ritualistic" mummies The best-known mummies are those that have been deliberately embalmed with the specific purpose of preservation, particularly those in ancient Egypt. Egyptian culture believed the body was home to a person's Ka which was essential in one's afterlife. In Egypt, the abdomens were opened and many organs were removed. The emptied body was then covered in natron, to speed up the process of dehydration, and to prevent decomposition.They are covered with sheets of white linen then wrapped with canvas. In China, preserved corpses have been recovered from submerged cypress coffins packed with medicinal herbs.  Naturally preserved mummies Mummies formed as a result of naturally occurring environmental conditions, such as extreme cold (Ötzi the Iceman), acid (Tollund Man) or desiccating dryness have been found all over the world. Some of the best-preserved mummies formed under natural conditions date from the Inca period in Peru.  Etymology The English word mummy is derived from mediaeval Latin mumia, a borrowing of the Arabic word mumiyyah (?????), which means "bitumen". (Because of the blackened skin of unwrapped mummies, bitumen was once thought to be used extensively in ancient Egyptian embalming procedures. Asphalt and tar are forms of bitumen.) The Arabic word was itself borrowed from the Persian word mumiya, meaning "bitumen"; this is related to another Persian word, mum, which means "wax". (The ancient Greek historians record that the Persians sometimes mummified their kings and nobility in wax, though this practice has never been documented in Egypt but documented in Greek areas as Death mask. The ancient Greeks for making death masks used wax, which even then was attributed with the magic power. .  Mummies in ancient Egypt The earliest known "mummified" individual dates back to approximately 3300 BC, although it is not an internationally renowned mummy, such as, Rameses II or Seti I. This virtually unknown mummy is on display in the British Museum and has been given the nickname of 'Ginger' because he has red hair. Ginger was buried in the hot desert sand, possibly with stones piled on top to prevent the corpse being eaten by jackals. The hot, dry conditions desiccated and preserved the body. Ginger was buried with some pottery vessels, which would have held food and drink to sustain him on his journey to the other world. There are no written records of the religion from that time, but it likely resembled the later religion to some extent. The desert conditions were a fact of life "and death", so, in any case, some physical preservation would be natural.