Bahariya (also spelled Baharia) is a must stop on oasis tours and Western Desert expeditions. But don't be fooled into thinking that your half-day break at this desert oasis is for panorama or shopping. In Bahariya, cement buildings have all but replaced traditional mud-brick dwellings. And apart from shops selling dates and olives, there is no tourist market here. Tours, even private guided expeditions, stop at Bahariya Oasis out of necessity. It is the only place to refuel and buy supplies for several hundred kilometers, in all directions. Nonetheless, a trip to Bahariya is not a complete waste of time. The recently discovered Golden Mummies and rock-cut tombs provide insight to an oasis of once greater fortune.
The ancient Egyptians believed in life after death. But they didn't think that life in the afterworld was guaranteed. The ancient Egyptians supposed that a person's spirit or akh needed a well-preserved body to live on. So they made mummies. Mummification, as the process of making mummies is known, was not an easy task. It took the ancient Egyptians 70 days to complete. The body was first washed and purified. Then the internal organs, except the heart, removed. Next the ancient Egyptians used a salt called natron to dry the body out. After that, they rubbed the skin with oils to keep it elastic and stuffed the body with sawdust or leaves to keep it lifelike. Once embalmed, the body was wrapped in strips of linen. The ancient Egyptians started with the head and neck and wrapped the fingers and toes one at a time. They wrapped the arms and legs separately before wrapping the entire body in a sheet of cloth and painting a picture of Osiris, the god of the dead, on top.
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