The discovery of an unusual set of ceramic vessels has shed new light on the mummification process in ancient Egypt, according to a new study.
Approximately 2,500 years old, 31 jars were discovered in the famous necropolis of Saqqara near Cairo. The research was published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Part of the burial site sits above the surface, but a shaft extends underground to a cremation chamber. And burial chamber, where the jars were discovered.
For thousands of years, the ancient Egyptians mummified their dead to help them reach eternal life. Researchers used an unusual collection of chemistry. And jars to figure out how they did it, according to a study published Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in the journal Nature.
A depiction of a priest during a drying process in an underground chamber in Saqqara, Egypt. Nikola Nevenov / AP
Chemical residues found in the jars allowed researchers to identify a mixture of aromatic or antiseptic oils, tars and resins, according to the study. This, combined with inscriptions carved on the exterior of the vessels, provided valuable new details about their mummification process, the researchers explained.
“Carved vessels can now be attached to specific materials and combinations of materials that were previously unknown.” Suzanne Beck, one of the study’s authors, told todaystrendnews News by email Thursday.
He added that “very exotic products” such as asphalt tree resin and elemi oil. “Native only to the rainforests of Asia and partly to Africa,” were also discovered in the jars.
Inscriptions on the jars, along with chemical analysis of their contents, also helped researchers find Egyptian words such as “antue.” And “safet” for specific mixtures, the researchers wrote in the study.
“It gives us an insight into the whole process of mummification and its logistics that we didn’t have until now.” Said Salima Ikram, a professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, who was not involved in the research.
“Something that’s being traded for a resin material or an oil from a plant is more interesting, because, you know, how do people know they want it?” she said.
“Does it have properties that are unique, that other materials found in the Mediterranean basin or the Horn of Africa do not have?” she added.
Ikram also said that he believes that the trade in white goods demonstrates. How knowledge was transferred between the equivalent of ancient physicians or alchemists.