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  Secret of the Mummy


Early Egyptians were buried in small pits in the desert; the heat and dryness of the sand dehydrated (dried out) the bodies quickly creating a naturally embalmed body. The Egyptians believed they would need their bodies in the afterlife. Over time they began burying their dead in coffins to protect the bodies from animals, but the Egyptians learned that without the dry heat of the desert the bodies rotted in the coffins. Over many hundreds of years a method of preserving bodies was created—this is the process we as MUMMIFICATION. The mummified body is called a MUMMY. 

How mummies were made:

1. The body was purified by cleansing.
2. The brain was removed through the nose.
3. The liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines were removed through slit in the side but not the heart; each organ was then embalmed (preserved) and kept in jars; the jars were called canopic jars; there was a separate one for each organ. It was believed that these jars were buried with the body.
4
. The body was then covered and filled with a special salt called natron to help draw out any moisture; a process which took about 40 days.
5
. When dry, the body was stuffed with straw, linen or other materials to help the body keep its shape; rubbed with oil, wax and natron to stop the skin from cracking; then covered with perfume.
6
. The body was wrapped in linen coated with resin to preserve it; charms, jewels, and papyrus were placed between each layer of wrapping while prayers were said by a priest.
7. A painted mask was placed on the mummy’s head so that the dead person would recognize its soul in the afterlife. The mummy was then placed into a painted/decorated coffin called a sarcophagus.

Did You Know?

  • Mummies were buried with many of their belongings including: pets, furniture, jewelry, and food.  King Tut was buried with 6 chariots in his tomb!
  • A mummy is any dead body that still has skin on it.
  • Egyptians believed the heart, not the brain, was the center of human intelligence.
  • The inside walls of the tombs were painted with murals that depicted the life of the person buried there.
  • Pyramids were built to protect the mummy and their possessions.
  • Mummification took about 70 days!
  • While Egypt’s mummies are the most famous, mummies have been found throughout the world, in Greenland, China, and all over South America.
  • Only the very wealthy were able to afford such an elaborate burial.
 

 

Check These Out!


The Headless Mummy
Keane, David
Super-sleuth fourth-grader Sherlock must solve the mystery of the missing head of a mummy from the town's Egyptian museum.
The Magnificent Mummies
Bradman, Tony
When Sir Digby Digger shows up at the Mummy family's pyramid, their routine day becomes an adventure as they help the archaeologist find new transportation and then need his help to free a stuck whale.
Reading Rainbow
Digging up dinosaurs: host LeVar Burton sets off in his jeep to explore the mystery surrounding the life and death of the dinosaur. Mummies made in Egypt: describes the techniques and the reasons for the use of mummification in ancient Egypt.
The Mummy's Mother
Johnston, Tony
When his mother is stolen from her tomb, Ramose, a 4000-year-old mummy, tries to find her in the Egyptian desert, aboard an ocean liner, and in New York City's Metropolitan Museum.
Museum Madness
McCann, Jesse Leon
The Coolsville Museum is throwing a party to celebrate their newest exhibit when an univited mummy shows up looking for revenge.
Mummy
Putnam, James
Documents the history and significance of mummies, both natural and man-made, and describes the principles and ceremonies associated with them.

Websites


To learn more, check these websites:

Mummy Maker
 
Tomb of the Unknown Mummy
 
Mummies of Ancient Egypt