Greetings Museum of Health Care Friends! In light of ongoing efforts to limit the transmission of COVID-19, this activity has been modified from the original version for offsite, home use. (Normally, this activity is completed as part of the “Ancient Societies and Wellness” education program offered at the Museum of Health Care at Kingston.)
Students will apply their knowledge of advancements in health care practices in ancient societies to complete this activity. Students will exercise their understanding of standards of practice dating to ancient Egypt, and the intersection with Egyptian religious beliefs to simulate mummification and burial practices.
Mummification is always one of the most fascinating aspects of Ancient Egyptian culture. In this activity children will get to make their own mummy using items found at home.
Pre-Activity: Welcome to the Ancient Egyptian afterlife!
Before you go on your voyage, you have to get mummified first! Ancient Egyptians thought that people could only enter the afterlife if they kept the shape of their body after their death through mummification. This would preserve the bodies of people soon after their death by wrapping the person in linen bandages, salt and spices to keep the bodies in their shape.
Ever wondered how Egyptian mummies can keep their shape for thousands of years? Here’s a hint; it’s not because of the magical powers of Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the dead and mummification! Ancient Egyptian embalmers were the people who prepared the dead for mummification, and they discovered that they could preserve the human body for a long time by using linen bandages and other ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen today.
Read the list of materials and instructions below to learn how embalmers pulled this off, and send a mummy of your own off to their afterlife!
Supplies you will need
- 1 apple
- 1 apple or vegetable peeler
- 1 spoon
- 1 Tupperware container OR (bowl and cling wrap that can cover the rim)
- Equal amounts of salt and baking soda
Activity: Make your own apple mummy
1) Peel your apple using your apple or vegetable peeler. If you don’t have one, ask an adult to help you peel your apple using a knife, (don’t try this by yourself).
2) Use a spoon to carve out 2 eyes and a mouth in your apple.
3) Place your peeled apple in your Tupperware container or bowl, and pour in equal amounts of salt and baking soda.
4) Stir your mixture. When you stirring make sure your apple is in the middle of your container, and surrounded by the mixture of all of its sides. You can give your container a gentle shake to make sure your apple is coated with the mixture.
Ancient embalmers found that covering a body in salt for a long amount of time would pull all of the moisture out of the body. Taking moisture away from a body would actually help the body keep its original shape for thousands of years up until today!
5) Close the lid onto your Tupperware container (or cover the opening of your bowl with cling wrap).
6) Leave your apple mixture somewhere you can remember. Your mummified apple will be ready after 1 week.
Next steps: Take off to the afterlife
While you patiently wait for your apple to transform into a mummy, the salt mixture will slowly absorb all of the moisture out of your apple, just like how ancient Egyptian embalmers would cover the body in salts for a long amount of time.
By the end of the week, your apple should have kept its shape. Your apple is now officially ready to leave for the afterlife!
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About the Authour
(Public Programs Assistant, Summer 2020)
Meaghan recently completed an undergraduate degree in history at Queen’s University, with plans to return to Queen’s in the fall to begin her Bachelor’s of Education! Her main areas of interest include the history of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and the history of psychiatric medicine. Meaghan’s experience of quarantine during the COVID19 pandemic has allowed her to expand her cooking skills, and discover the many hiking locations that Kingston and the surrounding region has to offer.