Copies of three ancient Egyptian cranial crochets, 1900-1938
Part of the process of mummification is the removal of all of the internal organs from the body apart from the heart, which was seen as the seat of the mind and emotions. The brain was removed though the nose in a delicate operation involving hooks or cranial crochets. After removal, the brain was not placed in a canopic jar. Instead it was disposed of as it was deemed unimportant. Recent research on mummies shows that not all of the brain tissue was removed. Henry Wellcome did his utmost to acquire objects for his collection. If unsuccessful he would seek permission to have copies made. The originals date from 2000-101 BCE.
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The enlarged and highly developed mass of nervous tissue that forms the upper end of the central nervous system. The average adult human brain weighs about 1400 g (approximately 2% of total body weight) and is continuous below with the spinal cord. It is responsible for the coordination and control of bodily activities and the interpretation of information from the senses (sight, hearing, smell, etc.)
Glossary: canopic jar
Stone or ceramic jars in which the ancient Egyptians preserved the internal organs of a deceased person as part of their burial practices.
The application of chemical preservatives to slow the natural decomposition of a corpse. Modern methods were greatly refined in the 1800s. Although they have been widely used in Europe, the custom remains most commonly used in North America. Formaldehyde is the primary embalming fluid used today. It is a preservative injected into the blood system to replace the blood which is drained out. Embalming fluid can also be pumped into the body cavities as well.
Glossary: cranial crochet
An instrument used for removing the brain during mummification in ancient Egyptian cultures. Also used in abortive surgery in the 1800s.