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(ĕmbä`mĭng, ĭm–), practice of preserving the body after death by artificial means. The custom was prevalent among many ancient peoples and still survives in many cultures. It was highly developed in dynastic Egypt, where it was used for some 30 cent. Although the embalming methods of the Egyptians varied according to the wealth and rank of the deceased, bodies were usually immersed for several weeks in a soda solution after the body cavities had been filled with resins and spices. Viscera were sometimes embalmed separately and either replaced in the body or preserved in canopic jars. Traditional embalming methods were largely abandoned with the spread of Christianity, but preservation of bodies continued in Egypt for several centuries. The corpse was no longer eviscerated but was packed in salts and spices and then wrapped in linen sheets. Modern methods originated in the 17th cent. in attempts to preserve anatomical specimens. Although practiced in Europe, the custom of routinely embalming corpses before burial is most widespread in North America. Formaldehyde, the essential element in embalming fluids today, is injected into the vascular system as the blood is drained out. In some cases embalming fluid is also pumped into the body cavities. See funeral customsfuneral customs,
rituals surrounding the death of a human being and the subsequent disposition of the corpse. Such rites may serve to mark the passage of a person from life into death, to secure the welfare of the dead, to comfort the living, and to protect the living from the
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; mummymummy,
dead human or animal body preserved by embalming or by unusual natural conditions. As a rule mummies are from ancient times. The word is of Arabic derivation and refers primarily to the burials found in Egypt, where the practice of mummification was perfected over the
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See C. G. Strub and L. G. Frederick, Principles and Practice of Embalming (4th ed. 1967).



(from balsam; the term originated from the fact that in antiquity aromatic substances and tars were used to embalm corpses), the steps taken to prevent a dead body from decomposing.

In embalming, all the body tissues are soaked in antiseptics and preservatives that hinder the activity of putrefactive bacteria and block the spontaneous disintegration of tissues. Embalming is performed for pedagogical, scientific, and legal purposes and to preserve the bodies of outstanding persons. Various methods are used, some to preserve the body temporarily, others to do so indefinitely. In antiquity embalming was done with balsams, a variety of plant fluids that prevent putrefaction. The creators of embalming were the ancient Egyptians, who for religious reasons did not bury the dead. There is no extant accurate description of the method they used. It is known that after the viscera and brain were removed, the body was soaked in various aromatic substances (such as myrrh and senna), wrapped in linens moistened with glue and gum, and allowed to dry (mummification). This method markedly altered the color and size of the tissues but preserved the body (mummy) for centuries.

In the Middle Ages, embalming was performed only to preserve bodies in burial vaults or to transport them to distant burial grounds. Among the embalming substances used were mercury salts (corrosive sublimate), arsenic compounds, zinc salts, alcohol, and other antiseptics usually injected into the blood vessels. Embalming fluids combining antiseptics and preservatives were widely used in the 19th century.

At the end of the century formaldehyde began to be used, and it led to the development of new and effective methods of embalming. Of particular interest is the method suggested by N. F. Mel’nikov-Razvedenkov (1893). It involves fixing the tissues with formaldehyde and soaking them in 96° alcohol and an aqueous solution of glycerin and potassium acetate. Bodies thus embalmed were preserved a long time. In 1924 the Russians V. P. Vorob’ev and B. I. Zbarskii devised a new method (subsequently improved by S. R. Mardashev) which was successfully used to embalm Lenin’s body and, in 1949, G. Dimitrov’s body.


References in periodicals archive ?
We tried to see if we could get health information from the hearts in their embalmed state, but the embalming material made it difficult," said study author Fatima-Zohra Mokrane, M.
7) While at the station, also request additional NOCs addressed to the following: (1) the airport for repatriation of the human remains (2) the mortuary for embalming (3) and the hospital for release of the body (if the deceased died in the hospital).
Grieving townspeople fill out the cast, and the bagged bodies in the embalming room are the morbid props.
The find pushes back the use of embalming agents to about 1,500 years earlier than previously thought, well before the pharaohs and pyramids.
Christianity generally allows for embalming; traditional Jewish law forbids embalming or cremation; and for Muslims who follow Sharia law, because the corpse must be buried as soon as possible after death, embalming and cremation are forbidden.
In a statement released yesterday, the Co-Op insisted the lack of embalming was not fraudulent, and was keen to stress that nobody had benefited financially from the mix-up.
Fire investigators believe a chemical reaction caused by embalming oils used on Tutankhamun's mummy sparked the blaze.
Fire investigators who were consulted believe a chemical reaction caused embalming oils used on Tutankhamun to burst into flames.
The study co-author Andrew Wade, an anthropologist at the University of Western Ontario said that the study contradicts the findings by Herodotus, who got an inside peek at the Egyptian mummification process and described multiple levels of embalming.
Even families who choose to wait, face paying "unnecessary" embalming costs of up to PS160.
Because Kristy was an only child and I was told that if embalming was to be done it had to be done within 48 hours, and I just wanted Carol to be able to say goodbye to Kristy," Mr Cadman-Jones said.
Dr Sabah said that Irish undertakers often use methanol in the embalming process.