The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Examining the evolution of Egyptian excerebration and evisceration through the IMPACT mummy database


Anthropology, The University of Western Ontario

Thursday 2:45-3:00, Galleria North Add to calendar

Mummification is a purification and reassembly of the person of the deceased – metaphorical and magical. Features of the embalming traditions, specifically the variable excerebration and evisceration traditions, represented the Egyptian view of death; one of transition to a second, potentially more enjoyable, life.

Firsthand access to imaging studies of these traditions on a large scale has recently been made possible through the development of a radiological mummy studies database. The IMPACT Radiological Mummy Database is a large-scale, multi-institutional collaborative research project devoted to the scientific study of mummified remains through primary data from medical imaging modalities.

The first application of IMPACT addresses the evolution of Egyptian excerebration and evisceration, and how suites of features in mummies of differing age, sex, status, and location differ and relate to the fate of the recipient’s afterlife. The origins, temporo-spatial trends, and status associations of these features are discussed relative to documented sociopolitical and ideological changes and interactions.

Egyptian mummification and funerary rituals were a transformative process, making the deceased a pure being; free of disease, injury, and disfigurements, as well as ethical and moral impurities. Consequently, the features of mummification available to specific categories of individuals hold social and ideological significance. This study presents unique, hybrid feature suites; refutes long-held classical stereotypes, particularly dogmatic class associations; and expands on the purposes of excerebration and evisceration implied by previous studies.

Funding for this project was provided by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Canada Graduate Scholarship (ADW); a France and André Desmarais Ontario Graduate Scholarship (ADW); a Western Graduate Thesis Research Award (ADW); and a University of Western Ontario Faculty Scholar Grant (AJN).

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