Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mummies... They're Not Just From Egypt

We went to a neat museum class today. It was all about mummies... and not just those from Egypt! Did you know "mummy" came from the Latin word "mumia"? Mumia is borrowed from a Persian word, mumiyyah, which means bitumen. The skin of the Egyptian mummies was blackened, and it was once thought to have been blackened with bitumen. Thus, the word "mummy" because they thought mummies were blackened with bitumen.
Wikipedia says "A mummy is a corpse whose skin and flesh have been preserved by either intentional or incidental exposure to chemicals, extreme cold, very low humidity, or lack of air when bodies are submerged in bogs. Mummies of humans and other animals have been found throughout the world, both as a result of natural preservation through unusual conditions, and as cultural artifacts to preserve the dead." Today in our class, we talked a lot about both intentional and accidental mummies.
  • Ramses the Great & other Egyptian mummies
  • The Ice Maiden of Peru - the Incas evidentally practiced mummification and, unfortunately, ritual sacrifices - this "ice maiden" also named Juanita, is the best preserved Incan mummy found to date
  • Famous people like Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet Communist Party - his body must be maintained weekly. Also, Mao Tse Tong & Eva Peron have been mummified.


  • Otzi - the Ice Mummy (there's a children's book called Ice Mummy, but we haven't read it) - accidentally frozen
  • Tollund Man - one of many 'bog bodies' - corpses found in a peat bog which seals out oxygen and therefore mummifies

After discussing mummies, the kids got to make an Egyptian mummy. They were to treat their corpse respectfully as the washed it, put it in natron, removed the organs, etc.

I have missed going to these classes as we always learn so much. We are signed up for a coin class in November and one about the Underground Railroad in December.


Robin said...

That was super-super interesting! I can't believe that those (sort of) modern day people would WANT to be mummified. It sounds disgusting to me.
Some of the folks in our hs group are mummifying a chicken. Have you ever tried that with Alex?

Makita said...

There are mummies (natural) in Guanajuato, Mexico as well. I saw them in person when I lived there in '93... all ages... some look peaceful, others not so much. Here is a link:


Melissal89 said...

Very neat information on mummies. Thanks for sharing. You have been very busy lately with all sorts of neat and way cool educational field trips!!

Blessings, Melissa

Carrie Thompson said...

I love the classes at the museum, if you ever have the opportunity to take the one on Vikings it is excellent! we are missing our underground railroad one because we will be out of town... Harriot Tubman- the Freedom Train is playing at Interactive Theater, the home school day is Feb but the night preformance that is buy one ticket get one free is Feb 17, maybe we will see yall there!

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