Thanatochemistry

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  • Thanatochemistry (from the Greek θάνατοζ, Thanatos, the personification of death in Greek mythology) is broadly defined as the chemistry and chemical aspects of those sciences related to mortuary practice. In particular, modern thanatochemistry encompasses embalming, the temporary preservation of human remains that enables them to be presented intact at a funeral ceremony. Thus, the objective is to overcome the effects of decay, a natural consequence of time.

    One of the earliest manifestations of embalming was mummification, developed by the ancient Egyptians several thousand years before the common era. The Egyptians were motivated by spiritual or superstitious notions that after death, preservation empowered the soul of the deceased, which would then return to the corpse. The abdomen was opened and all the organs removed. The ...

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