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Topic – Ancient Egypt: Ancient Egypt’s Mummies

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Ancient Egypt’s Mummies

The people of ancient Egypt believed in life after death. A person’s body was an important part of that, so it had to be preserved. These preserved bodies are known as mummies.

Making a Mummy

Egyptian mummy, British Museum

Ancient Egyptians believed that when they died, they would journey to another world where they would lead a new life. So people who could afford it, such as the rulers and rich landowners, were put through a long process to try to preserve their bodies after they died.

The body was covered with salty crystals called natron that dried it out. Some of the organs were removed, then the body stayed in the natron for about 40 days while the moisture was drawn out.

Egyptians sarcophagus

Next, lotions were applied to the skin to preserve it, and packing was added to fill out the empty body. The body was then wrapped in many layers of linen strips. The layers of wraps were glued together with a sticky substance called resin. This part of the process might also take as long as 40 days. Finally, the mummy was placed in a stone coffin called a sarcophagus.

Other Mummies

Egyptian cat Mummified

Poor people could not afford the expensive mummification process. Instead, their families placed the bodies of their dead relatives out in the desert sands, where the hot sun dried them naturally. These bodies also became mummies and were buried with pots and tools they would need in the next life.

The Ancient Egyptians worshipped cats. When their pets died, they were also mummified and their tiny bodies were placed in tombs along with their rich owners.

King Tut

Egyptian Burial Mask

One of the most famous mummies ever is King Tutankhamun (you say it Toot-ahnk-ah-MOON). He was an unimportant king who ruled for only 10 years. But when his tomb was found in 1922, it was in excellent condition and had been undisturbed for thousands of years.

His mummy was resting in a series of coffins—one made of pure gold—that were all enclosed in a huge gold shrine. His tomb was filled with objects that showed us what life was like in Egypt when he was alive. It is one of the most important archaeological finds in history. For a few years, King Tut’s mummy and many of the objects from the tomb went on tour to museums around the world so people could see them.


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