Looking Back – Ancient Egypt Part 2: Mummifying a Chicken

ancient egypt unit study

The Ancient Egyptians lived their whole life preparing for death.  Their elaborate belief system meant that life after death held promises of wonders impossible in this world.  Death, burial and mummification seemed a good, if not unusual place to start our study of Ancient Egypt.

We used these books for our study:

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mummy2First we learnt about death and its importance in Ancient Egypt.  We looked at all the things that remain from Ancient Egypt today and how they all revolved around the gods and the after life.  We learnt about mummification:

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And built our own paper mummies:

Our paper mummy, with instructions how to mummify
Our paper mummy, with instructions how to mummify
Inside the paper mummy was a mummified lolly stick!
Inside the paper mummy was a mummified lolly stick!

We mummified an apple and then took the decision to mummify a chicken.  This wasn’t going to be any chicken.  We got the local butcher on board and he managed to get hold of a whole chicken, head, feet and insides all present and untouched.  It was a laying chicken which had reached the end of its natural life and was not destined for the table  (my brother has been a passionate vegetarian all his life and my mum is mostly vegetarian with an utter love for animals.)  Familial peer pressure would allow for no less!

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Our wonderful butcher very kindly took out the insides for us, without damaging the chicken’s exterior at all.  He laid out the innards for us to identify.  We made canopic jars by painting baby food jars and sticking the appropriate god to each (which we got from an ancient Egyptian Toob play set).  The innards were placed in those and sealed NEVER to be opened again!

The canopic jar and sarcophagus being painted
The canopic jar and sarcophagus being painted

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We took the rest of the chicken home and followed instructions to mummify it.

  • We cleaned it with alcohol.  We used a cheap Vodka:

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  • We then dried him thoroughly:

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  • We made a mixture of salt and baking powder and filled the insides until full:

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  • We filled a bag full of the mixture and popped in the chicken, making sure he was fully covered:

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Loving Gary’s face!  The things he does in the name of education!!

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  • We left the mixture to dry out the chicken, changing it as it became damp.  Once the mixture was continuously dry we removed the chicken, which by now was very arid and stiff:

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  • We wrapped it in strips of linen:
The final mummified chicken in it's coffin.  Note the canopic jar next to it
The final mummified chicken in its sarcophagus. Note the canopic jar next to it

I’m really enjoying looking back at old photos of all we’ve done!

 

 

29 comments

  1. I don’t know how you manage to get me involved in all these things. “I’ll Love you forever” maybe. Lol

  2. Ha ha ha, we mummified a chicken too, but ours came from the grocery store, so it looked very different. That is AWESOME you got to mummify a whole one, now I wish we could have done that……
    I don’t think my husband will wish that.

    1. No Gary wasn’t overly impressed, especially as I made him change the bags of wet, very smelly mixture! I’m sure I had a reasonable excuse at the time, although recollection is a bit scarce….!

      1. So, the post showed up again in my feed, so I’m reading it again. I got to change all the wet icky bags. I’m trying to decide if we’ll do this again when we get back to Egypt this coming year…….. I think we might, because I don’t know that the kids really remember it.

  3. I wasn’t brave enough to mummify a chicken…we stuck to apples and oranges. Pretty cool as well. I love your canopic jars. We tried to sculpt ours from clay, and it was a bit too tough for them at their age (3, 7 and 10 at the time). I think we will make them like you did if we do them again. It has been fun seeing your photos and projects.

  4. Oh my goodness, this is amazing. You can’t get any more hands on than this. Every time I read your blog, I wish I was a homeschooler! (saw this post linked up from Creative Kids Culture hop)

    1. That’s so weird, I thought you were a home schooler! I get your posts in my email box and I could have sworn you home schooled! Are you sure you don’t?? You do a lot of activities with your children for non- homeschooler! Good for you! I need to sit down now and recover!

      1. I basically drive the girls nuts 🙂 I get some very wary looks when I say “I’ve been thinking…” or come home with a bag full of library books! I keep having to remind myself that they are not interested in another lesson, they’ve been in school all week. But I love doing things with them – soon, especially with my older one, I’ll be lucky for any time spent together!

  5. You actually mummified a chicken! I’m not as brave, even if it’s dead. 😉 Kids did a wonderful job! Thank you so much for linking at the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #3.

  6. Oh my goodness! I am pinning this – what an incredible way to learn about mummification! I just read “River God” by Wilbur Smith (not a children’s book) but ancient Egypt has been on my mind because of it. Thanks for linking up to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

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