"in ancient times they used basil to embalm the dead"
Basil (Ocimum basilicum
) has long been used as an embalming and preserving herb, and is found in mummies of ancient Egypt. Perhaps because of its embalming role, basil was also a symbol of mourning in Greece where it was known as basilikon phuton
(magnificent, royal or kingly herb). In Europe, basil is placed in the hands of the dead to ensure a safe journey. In India, it is placed in the mouth of the dying to ensure they reach God.