Although humans have been the main subjects for mummification, animals were also mummified. Many of the mummies found were animals that might have been pets or used as offerings to the gods. Others were sacred and used for symbolism. Such animals included cats, monkeys, hawks, and even small insects
such as the praying mantis. Often times, animal mummies were overlooked when it came to deciphering the Ancient Egyptian life. This has proved to be wrong and now many scientists and Egyptologist are taking a second look at these mummies.
The Egyptians loved pets and went to greatlengths to keep them forever. Many of the common pets mummified were dogs, cats and monkeys. These animals were mummified and in most cases careful effort was used to preserve them. The pets were depicted on tomb walls and are shown eating food or sitting under the chair of the deceased. Other depictions show the pet retrieving wild game shot down by their owner.
Being preserved as pets, animal mummies were also used as offerings to gods. Some gods, such as Horus, who is represented by a falcon was also left offerings. Often times it was difficult to breed certain animals for sacrificial offerings so many were caught. If the proper animal could not be offered to the proper good, a false mummy was sometimes used. This mummy could have been made of other animals similar to the one needed, such as common birds or even mud. It seems the concept of giving to the gods was more important and early signs of fraud might have been evident.
First the brain was taken out. There were three different ways to extract the brain, used in different time periods that mummies were made:
In the early times, the brain was taken out by sticking a hook up the nose until it grabbed the brain so that they could pull it out through the nostrils.
Later, they would take one of the eyes out and pull the brain out by sticking a hook into the hole where the optic nerve connected to the brain.
The last mummies made in Egypt had their brains extracted by poking a small hole in the scull in the back of the head.
After the brain was taken out, the lungs, stomach, liver and intestines were taken out through an incision in the left side of the body, embalmed, and put in canopic jars. To fill the empty space in the body, bags of natron and sweet-smelling spices were placed inside the body. Originally, the heart was left in because it was thought to be easier for Anubis to weigh the heart against a feather to see if the person had led and honest life. In later times, the heart was taken out, embalmed and replaced by a stone scarab amulet as a symbol of renewed life.
The hole where the internal organs were taken out was covered with an embossed golden panel that had a picture of the eye of Udjat, the magic eye of Horus, who protected the dead.
Then the body was covered with natron and put on a slanted table with a jar at the bottom, near the lower end, so that the water extracted could be collected. The natron also acted as a fat dissolver and a weak antiseptic. The body was dried out for forty days.
After forty days, the mummy was cleaned off with oils and brushes so that no water would get into the body.
In later times, the mummy had a layer of tree sap, or resin, put on it to help preserve it. To keep the skin soft and smooth, it was rubbed with gum, cedar oil, wax and natron.
Then the body was covered with jewelry and sacred necklaces. Before the mummy was put in the coffins and sarcophagus, it was wrapped with many layers of linen strips.
Small dolls that looked like the mummy, called shabtis, were put in the wrappings. They were supposed to work in the fields for the mummy in the next life.
Finally, the mummy was put in three coffins and the sarcophagus, which was already in the tomb.
The whole embalming process took seventy days.