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A Mummification Simulation



Each student is presented a "deceased" Pharaoh and they begin the mummification ritual.



for your own use...
   1 sharp cutting knife
per student...
   1 dead pharaoh
   3 cotton balls
   3 pieces of aquarium gravel
   1 five-inch piece of string
per group of students...
   1 roll of masking tape
   1 roll of school-grade brown paper towels
   1 small bucket (size of an empty Cool-Whip container)
   1 bottle of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
per class...
   clean-up supplies 


1. Begin class by solemnly announcing that you have bad news: During the night, the Hyksos army attacked the palace and killed our mighty and beloved pharaoh and all his sons; and that as the most respected embalmers of all Egypt, it is our job to see to it that they are properly prepared for an eternal afterlife.


2. Identify yourself as the hery seshta (chief embalmer) and the kids (and aides, if you have them) as the wetyu (embalming assistants). The classroom is of course now the per nefer (embalmer's workshop). 


3. Pass out the dead pharaohs and all the supplies that each child and group will need. Designate one child per group to fill their bucket with natron.


4. The kids need to make tags to be able to tell their mummies apart. Have them tie one end of the string to the wire sticking out of the ead pharaoh's head. Next, they fold a piece of masking tape around the other end of the string and write their name on it.


5. Go from child to child and use the knife to make a diagonal incision on the abdomen (the orange). This is where the extra pair of hands REALLY helps! Cut deep to help break up the pulp. Don't make it too big though, because it may tear when the kids start digging out the organs. After you make the incision, let the kids stone you with the aquarium gravel in mock ceremony to show their displeasure with this act of desecration. Set the rules for what is acceptable: all three pebbles at once, underhand, not in the face, etc. Or you can be a big poop and skip this part all together.


6. The kids then carefully remove the organs (pulp and seeds) with their fingers. Warn them about how easy it is to accidentally rip the incision to a much larger size! As the organs are removed, the kids place them on a folded piece of paper towel to help absorb the moisture.

7. Once all the organs are removed, students wash the body inside and out with "wine" (cotton balls soaked with rubbing alcohol) to help prevent decay by killing some of the bacteria. Then have the kids fill the abdomen with natron and sprinkle spices all over the pharaohs.


8. The kids next get rid of as much of the juice from the pulp as possible by squeezing it in the paper towel. They wash these organs with alcohol, too.


9. To dehydrate the organs, the kids need to put a small scoop of natron in the center of a new piece of paper towel. The pulp and seeds are placed on top, and a bit more natron is added. The paper towel is bundled up into a pouch and held shut with masking tape. Have the kids write their names on the tape. Collect these in the paper grocery bag.

10. While the kids are busy working, cover the bottom of the plastic sweater box with a layer of natron about 1/4 inch deep.


11. Collect the pharaohs as kids finish. Lay them in the sweater box face up. Barely cover them with natron once you've collected all of them. Don't bury them too deep or else the moisture will have a hard time evaporating. NEVER USE A LID! If you do, the moisture will be trapped inside the box, the natron will stay damp, and the pharaohs won't mummify.

12. Two days later, remove the pharaohs from the wet soggy natron (don't throw it out because you can use it next year). Dry out the sweater box, lay down a fresh 1/4 inch layer of natron, and replace the pharaohs. Barely cover with a new layer of natron.


13. It will take a couple weeks for the bodies to dry out and turn into bona-fide SimMummies, but that's OK because you will need that time to build the coffin and sculpt the canopic jars, shabtis, and amulets.

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