Good news! You are an Egyptian king or queen! Bad news. You're dead. Your family believes that even though your body is dead, it still needs to carry your soul into the afterlife. It's now their job to make sure that your body is ready for that trip. In order to do that, they are going to do some . . . things to your dead body. This is going to get a little gross. Does it matter how you feel about it? No, it doesn't. You're dead. If it ever becomes too much, just remember, think like an ancient Egyptian . . .If you ask the ancient Egyptians, your job is far from over after you die. You still need to go to the underworld. Your ka is the ghost that lives on after your body is dead. Egyptians believed your ka needed something that could take it through the next life. This is where your dead body comes in . . . Now that we have the nice part out of the way, we can get down to the hard part. If your family leaves your body the way it is, some not so nice things are going to happen to it. It will be eaten by bugs. It will turn rotten. It will break down. To stop that from happening, they will have to do some OTHER not so nice things to it. Mummification is a process that stops the body of a dead person or animal from breaking down or rotting. This can happen all by itself if the body is kept super dry or super cold, but in Egypt, we do this to our dead on purpose. Everyone in ancient Egypt wants to be mummified. Too bad for them, not everyone can afford it. You are lucky though because you come from a rich family. If you can call what's about to happen to your body lucky . . .Watch. Don't look away. They are about to take your body apart. Embalming is when people do different things to a dead body to keep it from breaking down. There are many ways to do this, and it was done in different ways over time, but I will tell you about some of the ways that these Ancient Egyptians might keep your body from rotting. First, they take your brain out through your nose and throw it away. Next, they cut open the side of your belly and take out everything inside. They rub wine and spices all over you and then sew you back up. They roll you in salt and then leave you for seventy days. Lastly, you are cleaned, and then wrapped in nice linen. All of this may seem gross, but it works so well that four thousand years from now, you will still have all of your hair and many of your features, including that freckle that you love . . . or hate.While your body and your heart lie still in salt for seventy days, let's watch what happens to the rest of your parts. Canopic jars are urns into which all of your organs are stored, and they are placed with you inside your tomb. On each lid are the four heads of the sons of Horus. Bye-bye, liver. That goes into the jar with the human head lid. Bye-bye, lungs. That goes into the jar with the baboon head lid. Bye-bye, stomach. That goes into the jar with the jackal head lid. Lastly, the intestine goes into the jar with the falcon head lid. Bye-bye, heart. Wait! You get to keep your heart. Your family believes it does all of your thinking. Remember, they threw your brain away. Do not be too sad about it or the rest of your organs. You will not be needing them where you are going. At the end of seventy days, your body comes to its last home. They place you in a coffin, which is in the shape of a person that looks like you. This coffin goes into another box that will keep your body even safer. A sarcophagus is a coffin made of stone that has many different pictures and words that tell of your life in Egypt. Some of the pictures are of food, just in case you get hungry. On the man-shaped coffin, you will see eyes are painted near your head. That way you can see your way into the underworld . . .Bad news. You are dead. Good news. Your ka, or spirit, is on its way to the underworld . . . Or your family believes it is, anyway. Egyptians mummified, or dried out, their dead so the body looked the same long after the person had died. Their bodies of the richest people were embalmed by taking out all the organs and putting spices in their place. They put these parts in canopic jars and after a long wait in salt, the body and the heart went into a sarcophagus, a beautiful coffin that saw the spirit to safety. I wonder what you will see down there . . .
Ancient Egypt. "Mummification" ancientegypt.co.uk, 2011. <http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/mummies/home.html>
Discovering Egypt. "Egyptian Mummification" Discovering Egypt, 2012. <http://discoveringegypt.com/egyptian-mummification>