The Scent of Death

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Ancient Egypt’s funerary rituals were intricate but they could also be very lavish and expensive, Science News reported

Scientists recently resurrected the ancient scent used for the mummification of a 3,500-year-old noblewoman.

More than a century ago, archaeologists discovered the remains of the woman entombed in Egypt’s famous Valley of Kings, a burial site known for holding the tombs of pharaohs and esteemed noblemen.

Inscriptions showed that the woman named Senetnay was a wet nurse to the pharaoh Amenhotep II and very close to the ancient Egyptian king. After all, she was buried at a prestigious site and a new study showed that little expense was spared in her mummification.

In ancient Egyptian mummification, the viscera would be removed from the body and placed in separate jars along with a balm meant to preserve the organs.

A research team conducted a chemical analysis of the residue in the jars holding Senetnay’s organs.

Most embalming fluids of that period were made up of fats, oils and sap. But the ancient undertakers used a rich mixture of substances for Senetnay, which included beeswax, tree resins and even sap from larch trees – these grow in the mountains in the Mediterranean.

The team suggested that some of the ingredients came as far away as Southeast Asia.

The findings not only suggest that Senetnay was important to Amenhotep II, but also that ancient Egypt’s trade routes were more expansive than previously believed.

“We were lucky because we identified one of the richest, most complex mummification balms ever found … especially for this early time period,” added lead author Barbara Huber.

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