The process of mummification had been known since the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom (ca. 2600 BC) and continued to develop throughout ancient Egyptian history.
Although mummification protected the body from decay, especially by microbes, some mummification techniques left the body susceptible to insect attack.
Certain types of insects have been detected in the mummies. In scholarly publications, most authors have dealt with microorganisms, while few have concerned themselves in depth with the effect of insects on the mummies. This study aims to discuss the significance of insects and the changes they affected to the mummies during embalming.
To achieve this goal, experiments were carried out replicating various mummification techniques using albino Wistar rats. Analysis and investigative techniques used included visual observation, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, investigation of the surface morphology by a scanning electron microscope, and color change by a spectrophotometer.
The following insects could be identified as being present during the second and third processes of mummification: Dermestes maculatus, Necrobia rufipes, Saprinus gilvicornis, Chrysomya albiceps, Wohlfahrtia magnifica, and Attagenus fasciatus.
In addition, the majority of our findings confirmed that the degradation by insects increased with the second and third methods of mummification. Finally, the experimental study conducted using the mummification techniques of the New Kingdom (ca. 1570–1070 BC) indicated that they were more resistant to insect attack than the other types.