embalming


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Idioms, Wikipedia.
Related to embalming: cremation

embalming

(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
..... Click the link for more information.
; 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
..... Click the link for more information.
.

Bibliography

See C. G. Strub and L. G. Frederick, Principles and Practice of Embalming (4th ed. 1967).

Embalming

 

(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.

S. S. DEBOV

References in periodicals archive ?
gt; Embalming certificate in original and seven copies thereof
com/2010/08/03/wars-drive-advances/) embalming fluid salesmen .
Examinees must pass the theoretical/written exam to qualify for the oral/practical examination, which involves actual exposure to embalming techniques and procedures.
David Spiers, boss of the firm in Bangor, Co Down, added: "It's a difficult thing for many to m s o think about but cemeteries pose e a serious unregulated pollution risk caused by the natural decomposition process which, given our cultural practices, may also contain toxic, poisonous and carcinogenic embalming fluids.
Before then, "I know of no other evidence that embalming had even dawned on the thinking of Egyptians.
The mortuary science of embalming as we know it today came to Canada with a Canadian Civil War veteran, Charles Bolton, a carpenter from Toronto who learned embalming while in the service of the Union Army.
The funeral director arranges for disposal of the body, prepares the deceased for viewing and arranges an embalming.
My sister and dad don't like the idea of embalming and I can understand that but I'm fine with staying in the room while the embalmer does his bit," she said.
I focus on two aspects of contemporary South African funerals embalming and exhumations--that are suggestive of how the migration dynamic, and the continuing demand from mobile mourners for innovations from the funeral industry, have encouraged new perceptions of and relations to the dead body.
The technical studies courses in the program include introduction to funeral service, funeral service law, funeral service practices, embalming, pathology, funeral service management, restorative art, psychology of funeral service, financial accounting and business law.
They offer everything from embalming to help with the red tape of acquiring a death certificate or burial permit.
So much of the embalming for funerals was provided by Letterkenny General Hospital.