YOU'LL NEVER FIND SO MANY MUMMY FACTS FOR KIDS IN ONE PLACE!
|Yay, GO MUMMIES!|
- The Basics: What/When/Why/Who/How?
- Slaves and Tomb Robbers
- GODS and Mummies
- ANIMAL Mummies
- KING TUT
- CLEOPATRA and Other FAMOUS Mummies
- BIZARRE Mummy Facts
- MOVIE Trivia
- Weird Science
- Mummy CURSES
- Mummy BOOKS
- Mummies in MUSEUMS
- PYRAMIDS vs TOMBS
- Language and Cataloguing
- Mummy Inspired Products
- Cheating Death?
The Basics: What/When/Why/Who/How?
1. What is a Mummy? It's a person or animal's body that has been preserved after death using a technique called mummification. Ancient Egyptians perfected the art of mummification over centuries. They developed a method for drying and wrapping a body in linen strips that made it last for thousands of years.
2. When did Ancient Egyptians start making mummies? Around 3400BC.
3. When did Egyptians perfect it? In 2600BC. Ancient Egyptians finally figured out that if they removed the body's internal organs before wrapping a person up, their body would last instead of rot.
4. How long did they dry out the bodies for? 40 days. They did this before wrapping them up. This drying process made them last for thousands of years.
5. Who made mummies first? People in South America. (Amazing but true, the Egyptians were not the first!)
6. How were mummies positioned? The bodies were not always wrapped up in the same position. Most royal males, however, were positioned with their arms crossed over their chest.
7. Who made the best ones? The best made and preserved mummies are from the 18th to the 20th Dynasty - circa 1570-1095 B.C. - and include Tutankhamen. The facts below refer mostly to this period.
8. Who performed the mummification? It was a big production! Preparing a body for death employed a lot of people: embalmers, cutters (surgeon), priests and scribes.
9. How many steps did it take?
- the body was washed and purified
- bodily organs were removed
- the body was filled with stuffing
- the body was soaked in natron salts to dry it out
- after 40+ days, the stuffing was removed and replaced
- the body was wrapped in linen strips
- the mummy was shrouded and placed in a sarcophagus.
12. How long did mummification take? The whole process, including the 40+ days soaking in natron, could take as long as 70 days.
13. Why did people get mummified? Because they wanted to preserve their bodies for all eternity. They believed they could use them in the afterlife, as long as they were still in one piece--relatively speaking.
14. Who got mummified? Not just pharaohs! In ancient Egypt, anyone could be preserved when they died, as long as they could afford it.
15. How much do mummies weigh? Without their wrappings, most weigh only 5 pounds.
16. Were some mummies fancier than others? Yes.Some were completely covered with a very thin layer of gold.
17. How do we learn a mummy's real name? On some figures, such as that of Pharaoh Ahmose I, the person's name is written on the actual linen bandages they're wrapped in. This makes it easy to identify who the preserved body was in life.
18. How effective is mummification? The process is so successful at preserving a human, we can get a pretty good idea of what a person looked like when they were alive 3000 years ago.
19. What's a natural mummy? A mummy that occurs by happenstance, without any human intervention or planning.
20. How are natural mummies made? "Natural" mummies can be made without embalming and wrapping them up--but only if conditions are right. These conditions include extreme temperatures and dryness, such as in the Swiss Alps, and some places in Central Asia, South America and Alaska.
21. What makes natural ones interesting? We can learn a lot from what they were wearing, and how they were positioned. For example, we can observe a hunter who was frozen in ice and has been there for millennia. We can examine his weapons and even what he ate before he died. We can also get an idea of the fashions and jewelry of the time. Some that were preserved in Egypt's dry sands have been found wearing toe rings. It's amazing to think of them wandering around so long ago with a fashion statement that's still offbeat and popular today.
SLAVES and TOMB ROBBERS
22. Did slaves get buried in the tombs? Sort of! Tombs were often filled with hundreds of tiny mummy-shaped figurines. They're called ushabti. (pictured above) They went with the deceased to the afterlife as 'mini-servants', to perform daily tasks such as baking bread and farming fields.
23. Ancient Tomb Robbers: The problem with tomb robbers is that they had no idea how valuable mummies would become. They simply tore off the wrappings, stole what they wanted, and left the broken bodies to fall apart. However, priests sometimes found the damaged mummies, re-wrapped them in new bandages and moved them to new tombs.
GODS and MUMMIES
24. Who was the god of mummification? Anubis, pictured here. He had the head of a jackal.
25. What did mummifiers wear? The priest wore a mask in the shape of a jackal's head, to show that they were doing the god Anubis's work. They believed this way Anubis would come to them and aid them.
26. Who was the first mummy? According to Egyptian mythology, the god Osiris. His jealous brother, Set, killed him and cut him into pieces. After his death, he became the god of the Underworld. He was resurrected by his wife, Isis, and also came to represent the annual flooding of the Nile.<
27. Did Osiris protect the dead? Yes. Here's one example--after the linen wrappings were completed and several shrouds place on top of the body, a special cloth was placed over it all. On the cloth was a painted picture of Osiris--god of the underworld. In this way, he protected the dead on their journey.
|Science Museum, London, Wellcome Images / CC BY 4.0|
28. Did animals get mummified? Yes! Many animal mummies have been discovered. These include cats, jackals, baboons, horses, birds, gerbils, fish, snakes, crocodiles, hippos, bulls, and even a lion. In fact, some even have large cemeteries dedicated just for them.
29. Did animals have special tombs? Some did! The Sacred Bull mummies from the early dynasties had their very own cemetery at Sakkara.
30. Cute cats? You be the judge! Priests used to draw little faces on them, and they even added ears, as you can see above.
32. How many amulets was Tutankhamen wearing? Archeologists found 143 amulets or magic charms in King Tut's linen wrappings.
33. How many chariots were in Tutankhamen's tomb? Six (6) amazing chariots.
34. How many cavities did King Tut's mummy have? Ancient Egyptians were plagued with cavities because the bread they ate was often tainted with sand. The sand wore down their teeth and caused tooth decay. By some miracle, though, King Tut had ZERO cavities!
35. What was King Tut's funeral mask made of? Most pharaohs were buried wearing a face mask inscribed with magic spells. Tutankhamen's mask was made of solid gold.
36. What did Tut have on his feet? A pair of golden sandals, and his toes were sheathed in tubes of gold for protection against breakage.
37. How much is King Tut's casket worth? Over 13 million dollars.
38. How old was King Tut when he died? He was a teenager, just 18 years of age when he died.
39. Was King Tut murdered? Archeologists originally believed King Tut was murdered. New studies using modern technology show that he had a broken leg, and that a bone disease had made his bones weak. In addition, according to his DNA, Tutankhamen was suffering from malaria. These two things may have been the cause of his death.
CLEOPATRA and OTHER FAMOUS MUMMIES
40. Where is Cleopatra? No one knows where the famous Cleopatra was buried. Her tomb has never been found.
41. What was Ramses III scared of? Ramses III must have had a fear of reptiles. He was found wearing an amulet that protects him from snakes.
42. Have all the famous ones been unwrapped? Only one royal figure found by archeologists has not been unwrapped: Amenhotep I. He still wears his original carved face mask.
43. What mummy has his own passport? Ramses II. Even though he's been dead for thousands of years, he received a passport to visit France!
BIZARRE Mummy Facts
44. What's a mummy unwrapping party? In the Victorian era in England, unwrapping parties were a popular event. The party host would buy one, and guests would get to unwrap it. Talk about creepy! Plus, what a way to destroy an ancient artifact, yikes.
45. What other weird things did Victorian era people do? In Victorian times, they ground them up into medicinal powders as people believed the ancient, mystical artifacts had healing powers.
46. Was King Charles II weird? Maybe. King Charles II believed mummy dust contained the secret to greatness. He'd have a few standing by and collect the dust that fell off of them. Then he'd rub the dust on his skin.
47. Sacred Train Fuel? In the 1800's, so many mummies were dug up they became practically worthless. Rumor has it some train drivers even burned them as fuel in the boilers of their railway engines!
48. Mummy firewood? In later times in Egypt, it's said they were sometimes burned for fires as firewood was scarce.
49. What is Mummy Wheat? In the 1800's, wheat was said to be grown from grains of wheat found in sarcophagi. Talk about fancy bread!
50. How much did the Mummy movies make? The movies "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns", both from Universal Studios, were so popular that they made combined box office earnings of $357,405,273.00, according to Hollywood.com
51. Grasshopper special effects: In the 1999 movie The Mummy, they used hundreds of grasshoppers. But of course grasshoppers are pretty hard to herd... To make them easier to film, they refrigerated the grasshoppers for a few hours so that they'd be sluggish.
52. The Mummy Movie Blooper? In the tomb there are 5 canopic jars to hold the organs of the deceased, and one jar has the head of a lion. In reality, ancient Egyptians used only 4 canopic jars, and there's no such thing as a lion-headed canopic jar.
53. The Mummy Returns Movie Blooper? In a scene where Nefertiri is fighting Anck-Su-Namun, she gets knocked to the floor. When she lifts up her mask, you can see a band-aid on her finger. Of course, they didn't have band-aids in ancient Egypt.
54. Ancient diseases? Using x-rays and cat scans, scientists can tell what kinds of diseases people had, from cavities to spinal deformities, and even nutritional deficiencies.
55. Why do scientists scan them with x-rays and CT machines? By using x-rays and CT scans, scientists don't have to unwrap the body to see inside.
56. Recreate King Tutankhamen's face? Digital imagery can be used to recreate an ancient person's face on a computer in 3-D. This way we are able to see what the person looked like when they were alive thousands of years ago. They even made one for King Tut!
57. Scientific uses? Can you believe it? They've been used to calibrate CAT scan machines for use in hospitals, at levels of radiation that would be too dangerous for a living person.
58. Breaks and Dislocations: The body of Cleopatra--not the famous one, but a second Cleopatra, who lived 150 later--was so tightly bound up in linen that x-rays show her left hip was dislocated.
59. What can mummy DNA tell us? DNA has shown that ancient Egyptians ate a stable diet. Some however, suffered from anemia (iron deficiency) and other disorders.
62. Uncovering a family resemblance? Scientists are able to guess if they're from the same family, or are related, by studying their facial features and the shapes of their skulls.
63. How can airport scanners help archaeologists? Airport scanners are being considered for use in studying mummies, as they are more gentle than x-rays and cat scans and less likely to damage the ancient artifacts.
65. Ghost Trouble? In 1699, a Polish man bought 2 mummies in Alexandria and set out in a boat across the Mediterranean Sea. He was haunted by 2 ghosts the whole way, along with terribly rough seas until he finally threw the mummies overboard.
66. Another haunting? Archeologist Zahi Hawass removed 2 child mummies from a tomb and put them in a museum. He was haunted by the 2 children until they were reunited with their father. Ahi Hawass decided to remove all 3 family members from their display.
67. Magic Cure? A sick young boy was miraculously 'cured' when he visited an Egyptian museum and looked into the ancient eyes of Pharaoh Ahmose I. Ahmose I was famous for winning Egypt back from the Hyksos invaders.
68. An eerie spinning statue? In Manchester, England, they have a mystery on their hands. A statue from a mummy's tomb was repeatedly found standing backward inside its case. Sure someone was playing a trick, the museum curators put a video camera on it. They played the video back and found it spinning around all on its own. The cause is still unanswered.
69. Dead canary curse? After Howard Carter opened King Tut's tomb, he sent a messenger to his house. As the messenger reached it, he heard a "faint, almost human cry". When he got inside, he found a cobra--a symbol of Egyptian power--inside Carter's bird cage, with Carter's pet canary in its mouth. The bird was dead.
70. The Mummified Hand? Sir Bruce Ingham received a mummified hand from King Tut's tomb as a gift. The relic wore a scarab bracelet with the words: "Cursed be he who moves my body. To him shall come fire, water, and pestilence." Some time later, his house burned down. Even stranger, after he rebuilt his house, it suffered a flood.
71. What popularized mummy curses? Horror films. One of the earliest movies was the Jewel of Seven Stars, based on a horror novel by Bram Stoker (author of Dracula), about an archeologist who tries to revive an ancient priest.
73. Other famous stories? Tintin's "Cigars of the Pharaoh" features an eccentric Egyptologist named Sophocles Sarcophagus. This story about the search for the undiscovered tomb of Pharaoh Kih-Oskh and introduced the twin detectives Thompson and Thompson, who were featured in many later Tintin stories.
74. Who wrote about the process first? Herodotus, a writer-historian. He traveled to Egypt in around 450 B.C. and documented them in his notes.
75. Did you write mummy books, Scott Peters? Why yes, actually! Thanks for asking :D I've written both an exciting middle grade adventure called Mystery of the Egyptian Mummy, and several non-fiction fact books that are full of fun trivia and pictures. You can find them wherever books are sold. Here are two below. (Clicking on them takes you to Amazon. I hope you'll grab a copy of one or both because you'll help support this blog, and because I really think you might like them! And to anyone who has already purchased the books, my huge thanks for your readership)
Mummies on DISPLAY
77. Does the Daredevil Museum have a mummy? It is said that Pharaoh Ramses I ended up at a daredevil museum in Niagara Falls, Canada, having been sold to a Canadian collector in 1860. Ramses is now on display in Luxor, Egypt.
78. Holy mummy? The Vatican houses an ancient Egyptian mummy.
PYRAMIDS vs TOMBS
79. Where are the pyramids? In northern Egypt, near the Mediterranean sea. Here's a bonus fun fact--none have ever been found in a pyramid by modern explorers. They were all stolen or destroyed long, long ago.
80. Where the main tombs? In Southern Egypt, in two secret valleys.
• The Valley of the Kings is the burial site of male pharaohs like King Tut
• The Valley of the Queens is the burial site for female queens like Queen Nefertiti
81. Why did they use tombs instead of pyramids? Robbers and looters caused so much trouble that the next generation of pharaohs grew worried about their burials being destroyed. They came up with a solution. They were buried secretly in hopes that their bodies and treasures would never be found.
82. Did the tombs protect them? Not always. Some tombs were unfortunately subjected to floods, and so the relics were destroyed or damaged by water. Others were found by grave robbers.
Language and Cataloguing
84. Where does the word come from? It comes from the Arabic word 'mumia' which means pitch or wax (bitumen). Originally, people believed pitch or wax was the stuff responsible for the lasting preservation effects.
85. Sleeping bags? Modern sleeping bags are styled to be wide at the shoulders and narrow at the feet. The design makes a person lying inside one look like a mummy--this is how they got the nickname.
86. What are some modern toys? Lego sells a mummy action figure, and it has a chariot with a skeleton horse that glows in the dark.
87. What's an example of a vintage toy? A vintage King Tut magic trick is still sold today. It consists of a coffin and King Tut's mummy. Unless you know the trick to inserting Tut into his coffin, he just keeps popping right back out to haunt you.
Cheating Death?88. Cheating Death? Mummies are often thought of as scary creatures that walk around with outstretched arms, but beyond the hype these fascinating artifacts were actually once living people. By preserving them in as lifelike a way as possible, ancient Egyptians have given us a glance at who they were. In a way, a small part of them has cheated death itself.
I sure hope you've enjoyed reading this ginormous list of mummy facts as much as I enjoyed building it for you.
Thanks for stopping by!
Until next time, I wish you good day.
- Scott Peters
Get even more facts in THE MUMMY BOOK, written by me, Scott Peters! It's packed full of extra tidbits and pictures. Buy now.