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scurrilous rumour

Herodotus, returning from Egypt in about 450 BC, provides his Greek readers with a scurrilous rumour about Egyptian embalmers:

'The wives of important men, when they die, are not handed over to be embalmed at once, nor women who are especially beautiful or famous. Not until the third or fourth day has elapsed are they given to the embalmers. They do this to prevent the embalmers violating the corpse. For they say that one of them was caught who had actually abused a newly-dead woman; a workmate denounced him.'

Quoted Carol Andrews Egyptian Mummies, British Museum 1984, page 11


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