Egyptian canopic jars

Egyptians learned to make mummies because they believed that they would need their bodies in the Next Life.

When a person dies, their body begins to decay. That means that the skin, hair, muscles, and other parts of the body start to rot away. The Egyptians believed that a dead person would need his or her body for the next life, so it was very important that the body of a dead person not be destroyed.

It took seventy days to make a mummy. First they washed the body with spices and then they removed the brain through the nose with a hook. Next they made a deep cut in the belly and took out the lungs, the stomach, the liver, and the intestines. They put the internal organs in canopic jars.

Next the mummy makers stuffed the body with a strong drying salt called natron. They tilted the body on a slanted table so that all of the fluids could drip out.


Egyptian mummy RamsesThey wrapped the body in strips in linen that had been soaked in resin. Then the priests decorated the body with necklaces, rings, and bracelets made of gold. Magical objects protected the mummy’s spirit on its journey to the afterlife.

When the body was fully wrapped, it was ready to be placed in its mummy case. Many mummy cases were decorated with paintings and writing. When the mummy was sealed inside its case, it was ready to be taken to its tomb. When the funeral procession arrived at the tomb, there was a special ceremony. It was called “The Opening of the Mouth.” A priest said a prayer, and then he touched the mummy’s mouth. This made it possible for the dead person to eat, drink, and speak in the Next Life.

Mummies were buried with all the things they might need in the Afterlife. Mummies were buried with extra clothes and sandals, makeup, jewelry, and wigs. Their tombs were filled with furniture, musical instruments, board games, and servant statues. They were even buried with food and drink.

Click here to learn more about mummies in ancient Egypt.

Would you like to play the Mummy Maker Game?

This website is maintained by Deborah McMurtrie, a second grade teacher at Aiken Preparatory School. Each year the second and third grade students at Aiken Prep research, write, and produce an original play. This year we decided to research ancient Egypt.

Go back to the Home Page.

The views expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the University of South Carolina Aiken. (February 2004)