World|science|August 16, 2018 / 05:12 PM
Ancient Egyptian mummification 'recipe' revealed

AKIPRESS.COM - Examination of a mummy has revealed the original ancient Egyptian embalming recipe - first used to preserve bodies, BBC reports.

A battery of forensic chemical tests carried out on a mummy that dated from 3,700-3,500 BC revealed the recipe and confirmed that it was developed far earlier and used more widely than previously thought.

The Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, is now home to the mummy in question.

The findings are published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Dr Stephen Buckley, an archaeologist from the University of York, told BBC News that this mummy "literally embodies the embalming that was at the heart of Egyptian mummification for 4,000 years".

Dr Buckley and his colleagues worked out the chemical "fingerprint" of every ingredient, although each element could have come from a number of sources.

So the basic recipe was:

a plant oil - possibly sesame oil;
a "balsam-type" plant or root extract that may have come from bullrushes;
a plant-based gum - a natural sugar that may have been extracted from acacia;
crucially, a conifer tree resin, which was probably pine resin

When mixed into the oil, that resin would have given it antibacterial properties, protecting the body from decay.

"Until now," he said, "we've not had a prehistoric mummy that has actually demonstrated - so perfectly through the chemistry - the origins of what would become the iconic mummification that we know all about."

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