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Mummies

The process of mummification has been part of human ritual as early as 3000 BCE. The Egyptians were the first to purposely practice the act of mummification and are become the most popular when people think of mummies. In ancient Egyptian society it was thought that a person's Ka--or soul--was part of the body, and thus a body must be preserved so that the soul could live forever.

The preparation of an Egyptian mummy was an arduous task. The abdomen was cut open and the major organs were removed and placed in Coptic jars. They left the heart in the body, thinking it was the most important organ, where was the brain was removed through the nasal cavity. The body was then dehydrated and covered with white linen, wrapped in canvas, and placed in a coffin.

Although the Egyptians are the best known mummification culture, many others have practiced mummification in the past including the Aztecs, Catholics, Chinese, Incas, Japanese, and Tibetans.

Dead bodies don't sit well with many people and the idea of a very old well-preserved body seems to cause them panic. Add that to the fact that some cultures believed it was possible for their mummies to live in the afterlife and the idea becomes a rather frightening thing indeed. In order to capitalize on this fear of mummies, Hollywood began making movies with mummies as evil abominations that rise from the dead.

Like most horror movie monsters, being a main villain assured the mummy a place in the entourage of Halloween spooks.

Mummies are still being made even to this day. However, the ancient preservation techniques have been replaced by a modern method called plastination.