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Mummified meat

Mummified Meat Left for Egyptian Royals after Death


Everyone has heard about King Tutankhamun, but how many knew that he was buried with 48 cases of beef and poultry? Those responsible for preparing Tutankhamun’s burial had to make sure, of course, that he had enough food supplies to carry with him on his journey after death.

A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has investigated the interesting burial customs of ancient Egypt and has discovered that the meat was mummified through a process that involved treating the meat with elaborate balms to preserve them. This was then placed within tombs to supply the Royal Kings and Queens in the afterlife.

The ‘meat mummies’, as they have been called, are fairly common in ancient Egyptian burials, with the oldest dating back more than 5000 years and the most recent carried out 1600 years ago.

The latest study involved the analysis of four samples of meat mummies dating between 1386 and 948 BC, which had originally been found within tombs of high-status individuals. The meat cuts included a rack of cattle ribs, calf, and goat.

The researchers conducted a chemical analysis of the meat and the bandages used to wrap up the meat. They found that animal fat was used to coat the bandages of the goat and calf, suggesting that it had been smeared on as a preservative. The rack of cattle ribs, however, contained the remains of an elaborate balm made of fat or oil and resin from a Pistacia tree, which was a luxury item in ancient Egypt.  It started to be used in human mummification approximately 600 years after it was used in meat mummification.

By April Holloway

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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