Takabuti, our famous mummy tells us a lot about how the ancient Egyptians prepared for death as they believed it was just another part of life. For them, eternity was an endless period of existence that was not to be feared.
When Takabuti died her body was mummified (the word comes from the Persian and Arabic words for `wax’ and `bitumen’, muum and mumia. This was a way of preserving the individual’s physical body (Khat) without which the soul could not achieve immortality.
Natron salt, sweet smelling spices, resins, oils and linen bandages were used to preserve the body. The stomach, intestine, lungs and liver were stored in canopic jars made from clay or stone
Things the person would find useful in the afterlife, such as food, make-up jars, combs, children’s toys, lamps and jewellery would be placed in the burial tomb.
Beside Takabuti is another mummy case. This belongs to Tjesmutperet who was an important woman. She has an inner and outer wooden case and her burial place was at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings. But, when she was unwrapped in Belfast in 1850, her body had turned to black dust.
The mummification of Takabuti was much more successful. Brought back from Egypt in 1834 by Mr Thomas Greg of Ballymenoch, Holywood, Co. Down, she was donated to the museum and her body was unwrapped in 1835.
She remains a thought-provoking symbol of ancient Egyptian beliefs.