I think the number one reason why Ancient Egypt is so popular with kids are the mummies. There are seemingly a million books on this topic, but my favorites (so far) have been – Mummies Made in Egypt and You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Egyptian Mummy. I had my daughter Izzy use the information that we gleaned from these books and others to come up with a list that we could use in our own mummy activity.
I thought long and hard about how we could incorporate a hands-on activity for mummification. Someone suggested we mummify a chicken, but I opted not to do that mainly because it sounds nasty, but also because we don’t eat meat and therefore don’t buy it. Then I heard about a project in which you can mummify fruits or veggies. Sounded a bit more like my kind of thing, 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 paper. I taped the heart to her chest because that was one of the only organs that got to stay with the body. 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 a seam ripper)……
The brain was deemed unimportant by Ancient Egyptians and discarded immediately. The other organs, however, were preserved in specially designated canopic jars.
Izzy puts the intestines in the falcon jar…
After salting (which really would have taken weeks) we anointed the body with scented oils and started wrapping. A real mummy would have had special amulets and jewels included in her wrappings….
Good bye dear friend…..
Then it was time put on the death mask and pray over the body. Izzy really got into this part….
We kind of fudged a bit on the whole sarcophagus/tomb thing, but hey you gotta work with you got and what we had was an empty shoe box.
Izzy pays her final respects….
Barbie is ready to be welcomed into the afterlife accompanied by her favorite things and her beloved cat (also mummified)…..
This amazing idea came from Chandra over at Josh, Chandra, & Izzy: At Home and Abroad. I loved the use of Barbie as the mummy, & performing the ritual would really cement in a child’s mind what it was all about!