Egyptian: Mummified meat as burial object

Supplies for life after that were embalmed and buried in small minis rgen

Mummy of a ring-rib from the 14th century BC. in a small coffin © PNAS
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Even in the afterlife, the elite of ancient Egypt wanted to dine with pleasure. Elaborately mummified meat thus enriched their grave goods. For the first time researchers have taken a closer look at these so-called meat mummies. As it turned out, the type of preservation also reveals the status of the dead: For the most exclusive deceased, the meat was also mummified consuming and placed in small coffins, according to the researchers in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences".

In ancient Egypt, people had a very realistic idea of ​​life after death. They believed that the most perfect preservation of the corpse in this world was important for life in the hereafter. So they developed elaborate mummification techniques, which sometimes used precious substances such as balm and resins. The grave of the dead was also often equipped with spectacular grave goods. The finds in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun document this impressively.

Provision for life afterwards

In addition to art treasures were given to the deceased and mummified animals on the trip and also provisions should not be missed. These meals included bread and treats as well as meat products. The hearty delicacies were preserved, wrapped in bandages and even placed in small coffins. Which techniques were used for these meat mummies, was hardly explored so far. This gap has now been closed by Katherine Clark of the University of Bristol and her colleagues.

For their study, the researchers examined samples of four meat mummies from different tombs from the 10th to the 13th century BC. It was a piece of veal, duck meat, goat meat and beef ribs. The analyzes showed that very different techniques had been used for their conservation.

The radiograph of the mummified rib shows the bandages PNAS

Expensive meat mummies only for the richest

The duck meat had just been dried. In the case of veal and goat meat, on the other hand, researchers in the bandages found traces of animal fats not derived from the meat. It was therefore probably substances with which the bandages had been treated. The most elaborate variant, however, Clark and her colleagues found in the bovine ribs. Their bandages had apparently been treated with a special balm that contained precious plant resins. display

This procedure was also used for the very high standards of mummification of some of the dead. The bovine ribs were mummified even more complex than some corpses of the Pharaohs, the researchers say. According to them, this documents the clear range in the level of techniques depending on the status of the deceased. Rich people could afford precious procedures, while others had just enough dried meat. Apparently, some principles of human culture never seem to change ... (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; doi: 10.1073 / pnas.1315160110)

(PNAS, 19.11.2013 - MVI)