Archaeologists from the University of Tübingen have determined the chemical composition and origin of embalming substances used for mummification in ancient Egypt - some of the ingredients were brought from afar, journal Nature reported.
In 2016, an international team of archaeologists discovered an underground embalming workshop near the pyramid of Unisa, south of Cairo. About a hundred ceramic vessels more than 2,500 years old were found there. Some were marked with instructions: put on the head or bandage, and other vessels contained the names of various substances.
Scientists analyzed residues of substances that coated the walls of 31 vessels. Among them was the resin of the tree elemi (Canarium luzonicum), which grows in the Philippines - the neighbors of Vietnam and Taiwan. Also in the pots were beeswax and resin of pistachio, which grows in some parts of Africa and Eurasia. Scientists find it surprising that embalming masters relied on sophisticated trade networks that crossed the globe to obtain ingredients from distant lands.
Analysis has also allowed scientists to learn that all along we have been mistranslating the word antiu. It was thought to be incense, but in fact it was some mixture of ingredients.
Some substances found helped remove unpleasant odors or excess moisture from the skin. This shows that the ancient Egyptians knew which substances had an antifungal effect and could be used to prevent the spread of germs on the skin.