ADVERTISEMENT
2 /3 FREE ARTICLES LEFT THIS MONTH Remaining
Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.

If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.

ENJOY UNLIMITED ACCES TO C&EN

Materials

Mummification Balm Recipe Significantly Predates Pharaohs

Analysis of Stone Age Egyptian burial wrappings identifies chemical components of tissue-preserving resin

by Carmen Drahl
August 25, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 34

[+]Enlarge
Credit: Ron Oldfield and Jana Jones
The inner layer of this predynastic Egyptian funeral linen (magnified 1.5 times) is impregnated with resin.
09234-scicon-wrappingscxd.jpg
Credit: Ron Oldfield and Jana Jones
The inner layer of this predynastic Egyptian funeral linen (magnified 1.5 times) is impregnated with resin.

Mummification may forever be linked with famous Egyptian pharaohs such as King Tut, but a study shows that Nile Valley dwellers developed a basic embalming recipe long before the first great kings. An analysis of prehistoric funeral wrappings using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry techniques pushes back the earliest known use of embalming resins more than 1,500 years to roughly 6,200 years ago. Scholars once assumed that burials prior to Egypt’s Old Kingdom some 4,500 years ago were preserved by the desert climate. But some Egyptologists, including Jana Jones of Australia’s Macquarie University, noticed toffeelike resins on Stone Age funerary linens and guessed there was more to the story. Stephen A. Buckley of the University of York, in England, working with Jones and colleagues to analyze the materials, found a complex mixture rich in diterpenoids indicative of pine resin, which is known to have tissue-preserving properties (PLOS One 2014, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103608). The mixture’s intricacy means that the resin was deliberately prepared, Buckley says.

X

Article:

This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment