This metal tin contains linen mummy wrappings, donated from the private collection of businessman and former museum board member Steele Taylor. Linen cloth was used in the mummification process of deceased Ancient Egyptians with the earliest known mummification happening around 3300 BC. This process was used practiced until the late 16th century.
According to ancient Egyptian customs, there were two important parts of entering eternity: passing the final judgment and having a well-preserved body that the deceased's life force could recognize and return to after a special ceremony. To preserve the body, special priests called embalmers would perform rituals, prayers, and medical procedures over the next seventy days to remove all moisture from the body and prevent decay. First, a hooked tool was inserted through the nostrils to remove the brain tissue. The stomach, liver, lungs, and intestines were removed next and the heart remained unchanged as it was considered the core of a person's being. After the necessary organs were removed natron, a type of salt, was spread over the skin to dry the body. Sunken areas were stuffed with cloth to maintain a lifelike appearance and false eyes were added to the body. Finally, hundreds of yards of linen were coated in warm resin and wrapped around the entire body until it was completely covered. This process, called mummification, ensured the mummy was prepared for burial and rebirth.
Two and a half months after death, the mummified body was placed in a coffin and carried to the tomb, ready to be reunited with the soul. During the funeral, priests performed the "Opening of the Mouth" ceremony by touching various parts of the mummy with a special ritual instrument. This "opened the senses" allowing the person to see, hear, speak, eat, and drink in the afterlife. To complete the process, the mummy was settled in the burial chamber and the entrance was sealed, allowing the spirit to start their journey into the Field of Reeds.
Besides humans, animals were also mummified by ancient Egyptians, often for religious reasons. Many animals were sacred to the Egyptian gods and goddesses, so several species were gifted to these deities. Mummified birds, crocodiles, rams, cobras, baboons, cats, and lion cubs have been unearthed at sacred sites and there is also an entire cemetery devoted to mummified bulls. In rare cases, a family pet would be preserved and entombed.
Virtual Discovery Kit: Egypt (April 2020) This Collection will introduce you to ancient Egyptian beliefs in life and the afterlife. Widespread settlement began in ancient Egypt around 8,000 years ago in 6000 BCE, and the first pyramids of Egypt were built approximately 4,000 years ago, around 2000 BCE. Many of the items in this Collection are from this period!
Discovery Cart: Egypt: Be Curious (February 4 2020) Discovery Carts connect visitors to Museum exhibits through hands-on exploration of objects in the Collection. Knowledgeable Discovery Cart facilitators engage guests with interactive activities and discussion questions during GRPM's open hours.
[Discovery carts are offered on a rotating schedule depending on facilitator availability]
Steele A. Taylor Steele Taylor is a New Jersey native and a World War II Navy veteran. In 1948, after earning a degree in economics from Williams College in Winston, Massachusetts, he accepted a job offer from Dohler-Jarvis in Grand Rapids. In 1960 he moved to Grand Rapids Steel and was part owner and president when he retired in 1985. He has served on many boards throughout his career, such as the Mary Free Bed Hospital, Aquinas Emeritus Center, various Hospice boards and former member and president of the Art and Museum Board. Steele and his wife Mary are consummate world travelers and their collection is a testament to their travels. Artifacts donated by Steele are exceptional resources, representing various regions of the world. He has also donated an extensive collection of pewter items to the Grand Rapids Public Museum.