The Many Layers of an Egyptian Mummy

Mummification was not the final step in the quest for eternal life. The body would be placed in several cases and coffins, sometimes up to eight, before eventually being laid to rest.

1 – Objects for the afterlife


Once the body had been wrapped in layers of linen, items like jewellery and daggers were placed on the mummy for use in the afterlife.

A scarab amulet was hung from the neck to help guide the soul during the Weighing of the Heart ceremony.

2 – Cartonnage Case

After mummification, a cartonnage case was created. This was formed around a straw and mud core, to which plaster and linen bandages soaked in resin or animal glue was applied, similar to papier-mache.

Once it set, the case was split open, the stuffing removed and the body placed inside.

3 – Decoration


Another cartonnage case was added and then a layer of plaster or gesso, made from resin and chalk powder, was painted over the top.

Natural dyes like indigo, madder and ochre were used to create intricate designs on the cartonnage, particularly depictions of the god of the underworld, Osiris.

4 – Wooden Coffin


The body was placed in an anthropoid wooden coffin. Those of royalty may have been painted with gold leaf and decorated with precious jewels.

A death mask made of cartonnage, wood or precious metals was placed on the head to ensure that its soul could recognize its body.

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