Learn about the history and science of mummification by making an apple (or chicken) mummy.
mummy, mummification, ancient, Egypt, apple, chicken
When students hear of mummies, they might immediately think of ancient Egypt. But the fact is that many cultures mummified their dead. Mummies have been uncovered in China, Mexico, and many other places around the world. In many of those cultures, mummification was thought prepare the dead for a happy afterlife.
The process of mummifying a body is a time-consuming one. All water must be removed from the body. In ancient Egypt, that was accomplished by covering the body with a salt called natron and wrapping the body in bandages. In later years, the process became more sophisticated; body organs were removed and the body was packed with natron before it was wrapped.
Share with students more information about the histories of mummies and the mummification process. You might use textbooks or library books. The following Internet resource offers an overview of the process.
This authoritative resource comes from the British Museum.
In order to help students understand how the mummification process works, students can turn an apple slice into a mummy! Here are the simple steps they should take. Students might work in groups of four to complete this activity.
Note: You might store one apple slice, uncovered, alongside the students' buried apples. Students will be able to compare what happens to their "mummified" apples to what happens to an apple that isn't treated with the salt mixture.
If you would like to explore more deeply the science of mummification, the following links will provide some ideas for doing that:
Extend the Lesson
Have students write a summary of the results of the experiment they performed. What did they learn about the mummification process from doing this experiment?
GRADES K - 4
NS.K-4.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.K-4.2 Physical Science
NS.K-4.3 Life Science
NS.K-4.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
NS.K-4.7 History and Nature of Science
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.5-8.2 Physical Science
NS.5-8.3 Life Science
NS.5-8.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
NS.5-8.7 History and Nature of Science
GRADES 9 - 12
NS.9-12.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.9-12.2 Physical Science
NS.9-12.3 Life Science
NS.9-12.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
NS.9-12.7 History and Nature of Science
SOCIAL SCIENCES: World History
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-WH.5-12.3 Classical Traditions, Major Religions, and Giant Empires
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