EMBALMING, the art of preserving the body after death. It was probably invented by the Egyptians, whose bodies thus prepared for preservation are known as mummies, but it also prevailed among the Assyrians, Scythian and Persians. It is at least as old as 4000 a.c. The Egyptian mummies were placed in costly coffins ready for sepulture; but were frequently kept some time before being buried—often at home —and even produced at entertainments, to re call to the guests the transient lot of humanity. The usual method of embalming among the ancients was as follows: The intestines and brains were taken out, and the cavities filled up with a mixture of balsamic herbs, myrrh, cassia, etc.; the arteries and other vessels were injected with balsams. The ancient Egyptians filled the cavities of the trunk with aromatic, saline and bituminous stuff. The cloths in which the mummies were swathed were saturated with similar substances. So effectual were some of the processes that after 2,000 or 3,000 years, the soles of the feet are still elastic and soft to the touch. By 700 A.D., when embalming prac tically ceased in Egypt probably 730,000,000 bodies had been thus treated; many millions of them are still concealed. In 1881 upward of 30 mummies of potentates, including that of Rameses II, were discovered together at Deir el-Bahari, (See MUMMY). The Persians em ployed wax for embalming; the Assyrians, honey; the Jews aloes and spices. Alexander the Great was preserved in wax and honey. Desiccated bodies, preserved by atmospheric or other influence for centuries, have been found in France, Sicily, England and America, espe cially in Central America and Peru. The art of embalming was probably never wholly lost in Europe. The body of Edward I, buried in Westminster Abbey in 1307, was found entire in 1770. The body of Canute, who died in 1036, was found very fresh in Winchester Cathedral in 1776. The bodies of William the Conqueror and of Matilda, his wife, were found entire at Caen in the 16th century.
Chaussier's discovery, in 1800, of the preserv ative power of corrosive sublimate, by which animal matter becomes rigid, hard and grayish, introduced new means of embalming; but, ow in? to the desiccation, the features do not re tain their shape. The discovery of the preserv ative power of a mixture of equal parts of ace tate and chloride of alumina, or of sulphate of alumina, by Gannal, in 1834, and of arsenic by Tranchini, pyroxilic spirits by Babington and Rees in 1839, and of the antiseptic nature of chloride of zinc, have led to the application of these salts to the embalming of bodies required to be preserved for a limited time. The latest method common in the United States is an in jection of a fluid into the femoral artery and the cavity of the abdomen. The most efficient agents are mercuric chloride, arsenic and zinc chloride. Embalming has taken the place of ice in preserving the dead until funeral services are ended. The reasons for this are its preser vation of the body for transportation and leisurely disposal and its absolute prevention of communication of infection, either before the body is buried or after it has crumbled and mingled with earth in a cemetery. Consult Budge, (The Mummy' (2d ed., London 1894) ; Dhonan and Nunnamaker,
and Sani tary Science' (Cincinnati 1913); Eckles,
Embalmer> (Philadelphia 1904); Gannal, (Traite d'embaumement' (Paris 1838; trans. by Harlan, Philadelphia 1840) ; Myers, (Champion Textbook of Embalming' (5th ed., Springfield, Ohio, 1908) ; Pettigrew,