The essence of embalming is to prevent the natural decay of the body. For this, special technologies and means are used. The most perfect way of embalming in ancient times was developed by Egyptian doctors. Now embalming may be necessary when transporting a body over a long distance.
Embalming in the Ancient World
In ancient Egypt, embalming played a large role in people's lives. Since the religion of this country was a cult of death, the preservation of the body for life in the afterlife was of great value. The Egyptians believed that if the embalming ritual was not performed or done badly, then the soul of the deceased would have nowhere to return and it would wander around the world. Moreover, the soul of the deceased will begin to persecute people and send misfortunes.
Embalming was also found in other countries of the Ancient World. For example, in Greece, Rome, China, India and many others. The reasons for embalming in these countries were not related to religion and beliefs about the afterlife.
The ancient Greeks and Romans carried out embalming according to Egyptian recipes. However, the Greeks and Romans did this only out of a desire to preserve the body of a deceased person. As a rule, the deceased was from a wealthy family and held an honorable place in society. Embalming was too expensive for ordinary citizens.
Embalming was also known to the ancient peoples of South America. It is worth noting that this continent was inhabited by many tribes and each of the tribes had their own religious ideas and attitude towards the body of the deceased. It follows that the reasons for embalming were different.
Embalming among the Incas and Paracas was due to the desire of people to preserve the social status of the deceased after death. The mummies of people belonging to different strata of society were different. If the deceased was rich or held a high position, then his body was wrapped in a multilayer cloth during embalming. For poor people, mummies were wrapped in one or more layers.
In the tombs of the Chinchorro people, there were no religious attributes: special objects and inscriptions. Therefore, it cannot be said that the Chinchorros were embalmed for religious reasons. Perhaps they ate the bodies of their deceased compatriots, after which they, as it were, restored the appearance of a person with artificial materials in case, as they thought, if the deceased would come to life.
Reasons for modern embalming
The reason for embalming in Europe and Russia could have been the desire of parents to preserve the body of a deceased child. An example is Rosalia Lombardo, her embalmed body is in the Palermo chapel.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the advent of photography, people began to take posthumous photos of their family members. Often, the bodies of the departed were already too prone to decay. And in order to give a dead person a living appearance, they embalmed him.
Famous politicians have been embalmed over the past hundred years. These include, for example, V. I. Lenin, Mao Zedong, Kem Chen Il and many others. The reasons for embalming are the desire of people to perpetuate their ruler.
Another reason for embalming in the modern world can be the case when the deceased is transported over long distances or if it takes a long time for burial. Thus, decomposition is prevented. Or, if necessary, save the corpse for forensic examination.