"in ancient times they used basil to embalm the dead"

Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBasil - Credit: Paul Goyette
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.