Burial Practices

The VE can be used to collect data regarding burial practices of a particular mummy or within a population of mummies. With visual data regarding burial goods, cross-cultural comparisons can be made. Under direct visualization, internal aspects of mummy bundles can be examined. The use of body cavity packing, associated feathers for ornamentation or packing, additional bandaging, artifacts placed within the wrappings in the mummy bundles, or the mummies themselves of a given culture can all be determined. Sometimes, offerings were placed in the mouths of the mummies. These offerings can be documented employing videoendoscopy and used for comparisons to other mummies of that culture or an alternate culture. Often, what is buried with an individual tells us what was important to that culture and at times may indicate the status or occupation of the mummified individual. For example, a ceramic pot placed within the chest cavity filled with coca leaves coupled with the presence of coca leaves throughout the remains, including between the teeth, suggests that the coca held specific significance for those people, particularly if other mummies were buried in the same fashion. A mummy buried with weaving tools may suggest that the person in that mummy bundle may have been a weaver (Figure 4.22). An individual mummy buried

Figure 4.22 (see color insert following page 12.) Videoendoscopic images of various burial practices seen from inside the wrappings. shown here are weaving tools, feather, cotton, and wool packing, and a metallic object seen with twine passing through.

with five shell necklaces, whereas other mummies in that population were only buried with one, suggests a higher social status for that individual. Obvious inclusion of shell or metallic artifacts may further indicate a unique social status. Artifacts found within mummy bundles may also suggest trade and commerce between different regions. The use of videoendoscopy for artifact analysis will be discussed in greater detail in chapters of Section III of this text.

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