Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Andrew Nelson


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 refutes long-held classical stereotypes, particularly dogmatic class associations; demonstrates the apocryphal nature of universal heart retention; and expands on the purposes of excerebration and evisceration implied by synthetic and radiological analyses.

Features of the embalming traditions, specifically the variable excerebration and evisceration traditions, represented the Egyptian view of death. Fine-grain analyses, through primary imaging data for these traditions, have recently been made possible on a large scale through the development of a radiological mummy database. The IMPACT Radiological Mummy Database is a multi-institutional, collaborative research project devoted to the scientific study of mummified remains through primary data from medical imaging modalities. This 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 how they relate to the fate of the recipient’s afterlife and to sociopolitical and ideological changes and interactions.