Mummifying the feet


At the peak of the mummification technique particular care was taken when preserving the hands and feet. In the late Middle Kingdom it even became common practice to tie the finger and toe nails securely in place before the body was covered in Natron to prevent them from falling off.

A recent study as part of the NMS Mummy Project in Edinburgh involved detailed examination of a mummy which had been previously unwrapped. The body was found to be so well preserved that fingerprints were still visible.

Another common practice in richer burials was to cover the fingers and toes in metal caps to preserve their look. King Tutankhamun had a full set of gold covers of this type which were discovered when the mummy was unwrapped by Howard Carter.

The way that the feet were dealt with during mummification can give us a clue as to the identities of some of the mummies. Pharaohs and those of high rank would have had their toes wrapped individually, while less important burials would have the toes wrapped together, so looking looking at the way the feet were preserved gives a clue as to which of the mummies could have been royal.