Going through the details of mummification and the Egyptian burial rituals, you are seized with awe and wonderment at the way in which spices, perfumes, condiments, and a whole lot of other ingredients have been used. The most astonishing thing is this: all these were natural ingredients, the use of which had been studied and perfected at a time when there was no technological help or advancement. Reading through the history of ancient Egypt, one gets the feeling of being in a closed room filled with aromatic spices, natural herbs, and exotic perfumes. It is, therefore, a no brainer to say that perfumes were closely connected and inextricably linked to the Egyptian way of life and death as well.
An Aromatic Farewell
All you have to do is to read through the list of aromatic herbs that were part of the internment rituals performed on aristocratic as well as ordinary citizens in yesteryear Egypt. When they were alive, most of them had baths that were filled with perfumes – niche fragrance decants. There were lotions, creams, and both liquids that had a whole host of natural and essential oils. Rose, lavender, peppermint, and thyme were just some of these that were used by the Egyptians. In death, these were also used to mummify their bodies and make sure that they existed for posterity in their sarcophagus. Another use of these perfumes was in the linen that was used at the time of embalming. The cloth was dipped in scents and preservatives so that the body would remain intact without any decay or malodour.
One could refer to this as the extension of mummification. Though this is not as commonly practised as the old Egyptian ritual, it is true that embalming is now resorted to by many people, most of whom can afford it. This is being done either to preserve a body for a certain period of time or because there is a wish that has been expressed by the deceased to preserve his mortal remains. In this too, there are quite a few perfumed elements that are brought in to ensure that the embalming is done properly. However, it is to be remembered that this process also has been replaced with chemical embalming, which many feel are more effective and longer-lasting.
To understand the connection between ancient Egypt and the use of perfumes, it would be good to study the details of the ways in which they lived and of course, also buried their dead.