Egypt unveils pharaonic 'brain drain' bed

March 19, 2009

Egyptian antiquities authorities on Thursday revealed an ancient pharaonic embalming bed unearthed from a mysterious tomb near Luxor used to prepare bodies for mummification more than 3,000 years ago.

The wooden was painstakingly restored after being discovered in pieces in the KV-63 tomb in southern Egypt's famous Valley of the Kings, next to Tutankhamun's tomb, the Supreme Council of Antiquities said in a statement.

The bed, featuring carved heads of a lion and a lioness at its foot, slopes downwards five centimetres (two inches) from head to toe to help drain bodies being prepared for mummification.

Bodies had their organs removed as soon as possible after death, including the brain which was thrown away as it was thought to serve no purpose in the afterlife.

The heart was left in the body, with other organs cleaned, perfumed and preserved in jars to be buried with the .

Afterwards, the corpse spent 40 days on the bed for draining of fluids, and another 15 days being bandaged.

Antiquities supremo Zahi Hawass said in a statement that the 170-cm- (68-inch-) long bed had been reconstructed from pieces of wood found scattered around tomb KV-63.

Luxor antiquities director Mansour Bouriq told AFP that unlike most beds found in , this one was not ceremonial but actually used for embalming.

"We believe this was a room used for embalming because we found some embalming materials, including herbs, oils and pottery vessels," he said.

Tomb KV-63 was discovered by Egyptian and US in 2006, the first to be found in the area in more than 80 years.

It is believed to date from the 8th (1570-1304 BC), although there was no mummy found inside to enable the tomb to be dated more precisely.

(c) 2009 AFP

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