Ancient Egypt is a fascinating subject for children. My son, Rayes, loves to discover the wonders of Ancient Egypt through reading! There are seemingly a million books on this topic, but his favourites so far have been :
- National Geographic Kids – Everything Ancient Egypt
- I Wonder Why Pyramids Were Built
- 1000 Facts Ancient Egypt
- Usborne Young Readers – Tutankhamun
One of the most memorable things about Ancient Egypt for kids, has to be the well-preserved mummies they left behind! Rayes used the information that we gleaned from these books to come up with a list that we could use in our own mummification activity.
I thought long and hard about how we could incorporate a hands-on activity for mummification. Someone suggested we mummify a chicken, fruits or veggies. But ultimately I really I wanted to do something that had more to do with the ritual aspect of mummification. So, we decided to mummify Barbie!
First we gathered our materials:
I cut out little organs from pieces of craft felt. I taped the heart to her chest because that was the only organ that got to stay with the body. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the heart contained the soul and in the afterlife it was judged accordingly.
We started with the removal of the brain which was pulled out through the nose with a special tool (we used tong). The brain was deemed unimportant by the Ancient Egyptians and discarded immediately.
Removal of the brain through the nose
The other organs, however, were removed and preserved in canopic jars. I didn’t have time to prepare the canopic jars. Canopic jars were used by the Ancient Egyptians during the rituals of mummification processes to hold the internal organs of the deceased that was going to be mummified. The jars had lids or stoppers that were shaped as the head of one of the minor funerary deities known as the Four Sons of HORUS.
Removal of the organs
Organs removed kept in the canopic jars
Next, we covered the body with salt. The Ancient Egyptions used Egyption salt called ‘natron’ to treat the body. The body and organs were then left in this solution for 35 days to allow the necessary chemical changes to occur.
Salting the body
After salting, we brushed the body with oils.
Brushing the body with oil
Then the process of wrapping began… We used a few strips of white crepe papers found in my art supplies. You could also use white linens!
Wrapping the body
Then it was time to put on the death mask and “pray over the body”. Rayes prayed that this mummy will soon get to play with all her favourite toys in the afterlife.
The Ancient Egyptians placed mummies in wonderfully built tombs. The tombs were painted with nice scenes from the deceased person’s life. We kind of fudged a bit on the whole sarcophagus/tomb thing. But hey you got to work with what you got and what we had was an empty shoe box.
Mummies were often buried with many of their belongings that might be needed in the afterlife. So we placed jewels and accessories in the tomb/shoebox. Barbie was ready to be welcomed into the afterlife accompanied by her favourite things! Rayes paid his final respects.. Goodbye dear friend..