Egyptians mummified snacks for journey to death - study
Embalmed portions of ribs and roasts placed in coffin as well as cats and dogs, researchers say
Carefully embalmed and wrapped beef ribs all set for the hungry mummy on the way to the next world, from the tomb of Yuya and Tjuiu (1386-1349 BC). Photograph: PNAS.
Ancient Egyptians if they were rich enough, planned ahead for their journey from life into death. They had their bodies mummified and had their cats and dogs turned into mummies so they could go too. Some went further still, taking along “meat mummies” so they could enjoy a snack on the way.
A new study released this evening by the US Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences shows that embalming treatments were used to prepare portions of ribs and roasts that were wrapped in bandages and placed in the coffin along with the mummy.
Prof Richard Evershed and colleagues from the University of Bristol analysed four of these packed lunches to see what was used to prepare them. The recipe seems to have varied depending on the meat mummy being analysed. The external bandages wrapped round a victual calf mummy contained a mix of substances derived from animal fat, but there were no waxes or resins. The researchers established that the balm used was deliberately applied and was not something that emerged from the meat itself.
Similar animal fat-derived compounds were found on a wrapped goat leg, but the balm was not used on mummified duck meat. But mummified beef ribs were a different matter, with a treatment used made of fat or oil along with beeswax and “Pistacia resin”, a luxury item in ancient Egypt, the authors note.
It is not clear why one recipe was used over another when preparing these handy meals, but there was no risk of going hungry when crossing over to the next world.