Ancient Egypt's Mummies: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Inocente
Thousands of years ago, the ancient Egyptians mummified their dead. Read more about this powerful and magnificent culture that made its mark on history. Find out about more about mummies by reading this lesson.

What Is a Mummy?

You may have seen mummies in a movie or on Halloween, but did you know that mummies are real? No, they don't walk around or come to life. They are a part of an Egyptian culture from thousands of years ago. A mummy is a deceased or dead body that has been preserved, meaning it was kept in the same condition after death.

How Were Mummies Created?

It was a long process to mummify a dead body. At each stage of the process a temple priest performed prayers and rituals.

The body was first cleaned, and all of the internal organs were taken out except the heart, which was left in the body because it was considered the center of feelings and thinking and would be needed in the afterlife. The body was then treated with a salt-like mixture to dry it out.

Next, the body was filled with sawdust stuffing to make it look normal. Now the entire body was treated with a clear or yellowish liquid found in some trees, called resin. After these treatments were done, the entire body was wrapped in layers of special bandages.

After this, the mummy was placed in a sarcophagus, which is a stone or wooden container that holds the mummified body forever. The sarcophagus was painted or carved with decorations that represented the deceased person. Finally, the sarcophagus was sealed and placed in a tomb, or a special room for bodies that was either underground or in the side of a building.

A painted ancient Egyptian sarcophagus
Sarchophagus

All of these steps of caring for the deceased person's body allowed the body to remain intact for a long period of time. Mummies that are over 3,000 years old have been discovered and are still in great condition when unwrapped. Some even still have hair and skin.

Why Did Egyptians Mummify Their Dead?

Ancient Egyptians created mummies for religious reasons. They believed that when a person died, he or she went into an afterlife that would be similar to the person's life on Earth. The body would also go to the afterlife, and there the spirit of that person would return to the body forever. For this reason, they wanted the person to look similar to how he or she had looked on Earth. They also buried people with their most important possessions so that they could take these with them to the afterlife.

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