A mummy is a corpse that has been preserved from destruction and decay due to natural or by human technology.
Most often, this is an intense drying and disinfection (to avoid the proliferation of micro-organisms that cause putrefaction of the corpse). The oldest, dated to 6 000 years Carbon 14 is the mummified head of "Chulina found in 1936 in the shelter of the Quebrada Chulin, and dated in 2005 in Zurich.
The ancient Egyptians who believed that preserving the body of Pharaoh (and notables and even some animals like cats) secured him an eternal life in the hereafter, used a complex set of techniques, including the withdrawal of viscera and brain, washing soda, drying in hot sand, filling the body with tar, bitumen and plants, the external protection of the mummy being supplemented by a package in a network of several strips.
There were also Christian mummies in ancient Egypt. The gradual adoption of Christianity by the Egyptian people did not suddenly put an end to the practice of mummification. It is from the late second century we find traces of Christianity in particular in Alexandria, then gradually the rest of the country. The practice of mummification was never banned by the Christian canonical texts. The fact that Christians believe in the resurrection of the dead fits perfectly with the desire to preserve the body. However the technique is different. There have been no trace of abdominal evisceration while the extraction of organs was an important gesture in mummification. Natron was also used. But the dead were not embalmed in the same way.
A label attached to timber placed the mummy in Roman times, was used to identify the body among the dozens packed in the mass graves.
Since the 1970s, was found in China several embalmed body in a state of exceptional preservation. The flexibility of the members, the conservation of all parts of the body is so exceptional that Chinese scientists call them "free body" because they have nothing in the dried state of Egyptian mummies.
We sometimes found naturally mummified bodies:
* A prehistoric hunter mummified (freeze-natural) in the Austrian Alps;
* Numerous examples of bog people, throughout Northern Europe:
o The naturally mummified body in a bog in Denmark, Tollund Man;
o Lindow Man (half of the first century BC.) (discovered in August 1984 in Cheshire, England, he was probably the victim of a sacrifice). It is preserved in the British Museum;
* The body of Nazca, buried in the desert, were mummified naturally;
* Nearly two dozen bodies were found Incas in the mountains, preserved by ice. It was noble children often sacrificed to appease the gods during volcanic eruptions, earthquakes or when the Inca was seriously ill.
* The body Tocharians in the Tarim Basin (desert of west China): see Tarim mummies;
* Animals such as mammoths preserved in ice in Siberia.
* The bodies of Pompeii.
Read also Nefertiti Egypt