Irtieru’s coffin is of fine quality, suggesting he was of high social status.

First kidney of ancient Egyptian mummy was found because the man was diseased

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Many Egyptians who were mummified had their bodies dried with salt and their organs removed and placed in canopic jars alongside their coffins in the burial chambers. Embalmers left the heart intact because ancient Egyptians thought it was the seat of reason. The embalming process and mummification took 70 days and included many rites, prayers and very specific, carefully controlled processes.

The Encyclopedia Smithsonian, in an article on mummification, relates why the Egyptians took such great care to preserve bodies of people of high social status:

But why preserve the body? The Egyptians believed that the mummified body was the home for this soul or spirit. If the body was destroyed, the spirit might be lost. The idea of “spirit" was complex involving really three spirits:  the ka, ba, and akh. The ka, a "double" of the person, would remain in the tomb and needed the offerings and objects there. The ba, or "soul," was free to fly out of the tomb and return to it. And it was the akh, perhaps translated as "spirit," which had to travel through the Underworld to the Final Judgment and entrance to the Afterlife. To the Egyptian, all three were essential.

Featured image: Irtieru’s coffin is of fine quality, suggesting he was of high social status. (Museu Nacional de Arqueologia photo)

By Mark Miller

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