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Mummification Step by Step

Head of a Mummy case found at Thebes.  The head has heavily made up eyes and a long, thin beard

  Mummification was mainly done to wealthy people as poorer people could not afford the process. 

The chief embalmer was a priest wearing a mask of Anubis. Anubis was the jackal headed god of the dead. He was closely associated with mummification and embalming, hence priests wore a mask of Anubis.

Wooden mask in the shape of the jackal headed god Anubis

  • Insert a hook through a hole near the nose and pull out part of the brain
  • Make a cut on the left side of the body near the tummy
  • Remove all internal organs
  • Let the internal organs dry
  • Place the lungs, intestines, stomach and liver inside canopic jars
  • Place the heart back inside the body
  • Rinse inside of body with wine and spices
  • Cover the corpse with natron (salt) for 70 days
  • After 40 days stuff the body with linen or sand to give it a more human shape
  • After the 70 days wrap the body from head to toe in bandages
  • Place in a sarcophagus (a type of box like a coffin)

If the person had been a Pharaoh, he would be placed inside a special burial chamber with lots of treasure.

Pottery jar painted with a scene showing a mummy in a boat

To learn more about key features of ancient Egyptian society using original artefacts, go to:  www.mylearning.org/stories/ancient-egyptians-objects-from-daily-life/431.  

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Ancient and Modern Egypt

This page has a collection of worksheets, puzzles, and reading comprehension passages for teaching students about ancient and modern Egypt.

Ancient and Modern Egypt

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Ancient Egyptian Numbers

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If you're learning about ancient Egypt, consider reading the chapter book Magic Tree House: Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne. This page has many printable worksheets and activities to supplement the book.

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Ancient Egyptian Medicine Facts & Worksheets

Ancient egyptian medicine included the belief that prayers heal but also high knowledge in the medical field and advanced medical practices., search for worksheets, download the ancient egyptian medicine facts & worksheets.

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Table of Contents

Ancient Egyptians believed that prayers could treat different diseases. Despite this, the Ancient Egyptian doctors had high knowledge in the medical field and could perform advanced medical practices.

See the fact file below for more information on Ancient Egyptian Medicine or alternatively, you can download our 36-page Ancient Egyptian Medicine worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.

Key Facts & Information

Ancient egyptian medicine.

  • Ancient Egyptian doctors believed that when a person was sick, the cause of this was the gods , demons, or spirits.
  • According to the physicians, channels in the body were blocked by spirits which makes the body unwell.
  • They believed that they must unblock the channels by performing a mix of spiritual and natural cures.
  • As they had this belief, most healers during that time were priests.
  • For treatment, they usually performed incantations, used amulets, gave offerings, and provided aromas, tattoos, and prayers to drive away the spirit that caused their diseases.
  • Shortly after, medicinal doctors flourished.
  • Ancient Egyptians had developed their system of writing and counting numbers; thus, they were able to record Egyptian medical literature.
  • As they had an organized and systematic civilization, medical research quickly developed.
  • The Ebers Papyrus, written in around 1500 BCE, is considered the oldest medical document in existence.
  • It contains over 700 prescriptions, and some remedies listed included magical cures as they believed that magic and medicine were often linked.
  • The papyrus also contains incantations recited by the doctors before initiating treatment.
  • It was their way of asking for help from the gods for healing.
  • The Ebers Papyrus also documented information for scientific procedures like tumors and their removal.
  • Other significant medical documentation includes Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus, Hearst Papyrus, Berlin Papyrus, Edwin Smith Papyrus, Ramesseum Medical Papyri, London Medical Papyrus, Carlsberg Papyrus, Leiden Papyrus, Erman Papyrus, Brooklyn Papyrus, Chester Beatty Medical Papyrus.

Ancient Egyptian Medical Treatments

  • For the Ancient Egyptians, an injury resulted from a simple reason, while diseases were caused by sin or an evil force attacking the body.
  • Diseases were then treated by incantations and magic spells.
  • During this era, they already had various medical tools such as flints, scalpels, dental pliers, saws for bones, clamps, catheters, forceps, scissors, bandages, and even weighing scales for measuring ingredients in medicines.
  • Some of their tools are still used today but are now more advanced. 
  • With the training they undertook, Ancient Egyptian physicians were capable of fixing bones and dislocated joints.
  • They could also stitch wounds and close the skin of the wounded.
  • For inflammation, they used bandages and plants.
  • For males, circumcision was a practice.
  • Prosthetics already existed but were often utilized as decorations or during burials to fill a missing body part.
  • Ancient Egyptians practiced mummification, a process wherein the dead body is preserved.
  • They also performed autopsies.
  • Through this, the Ancient Egyptians were recognized to have a good understanding of human anatomy.
  • Treatable injuries – Injuries that they could treat quickly.
  • Contestable injuries – Injuries said to be not life-threatening, so they assumed that the patient could survive even if no treatments were given. However, the doctor would still leave the patient under observation. If they could get through the injury, it was up to the doctor’s discretion to perform any surgery or treatment.
  • Untreatable ailments – Doctors would not attempt to treat the patients.
  • The field of dentistry was significant to the Ancient Egyptians.
  • Dental problems were already common to the Ancient Egyptians, but only a few dentists were available.
  • The food, most especially the bread prepared by the Ancient Egyptians, contained sand from grinding the grain and bits of rocks.
  • Due to this unavoidable situation, their bread and other food were coarse, causing them dental problems.

Other Medical Practices

  • The Ancient Egyptian physicians were already aware of the existence and connection of the pulse and the heart.
  • The cardiac system was vaguely discussed in the Smith Papyrus.
  • However, the author did not know about blood circulation, so disregarded the importance of the blood vessels, tendons, and nerves.
  • They believed that the body was composed of a system of channels.
  • According to doctors, the heart was the center of the channels.
  • If these channels were blocked, they believed that it was due to the evil spirit, Wekhedu.
  • Pus symbolized that Wekhedu had come to the surface of the body.
  • There were different methods to know if a woman was pregnant.
  • Ancient Egyptian doctors also advised different contraceptive methods. One method involved injecting honey and natro into the women’s private parts.
  • Pregnancy could be determined by using a sample of barley and emmer.
  • Women moistened it with their urine every day and believed that if the barley grew, the child would be a boy, while if the emmer grew, it would be a girl. If both plants failed to grow, the woman was not pregnant.
  • A remedy for headaches combined flour, incense, waneb plant, the wood of wa, a horn of a stag, sycamore seeds, mason’s plaster, mint, water, and seeds of zart and applied it on the head.
  • To treat colds, Ancient Egyptian physicians performed incantations.
  • A fractured skull was treated with Ostrich eggs.
  • Ancient Egyptians were all aware of the importance of diet and cleanliness.
  • They were highly expected to wash and shave their bodies to avoid infections. 
  • For their diet, they were told not to eat unclean animals and raw fish.
  • Mummification
  • Mummification became a significant custom for the Ancient Egyptians.
  • They performed this tradition because they believed it could help the dead have a good life in the afterworld.
  • The body preserved is called a mummy, while the process is called mummification.
  • The process was often availed by the nobles because it was costly.
  • Embalming the body took about 70 days for the embalmer to finish the process.
  • The chief embalmer, Hery Seshta, wore the mask of a jackal to represent the mummification God, Anubis.
  • First, clean the body by washing it.
  • Insert a hook through the nose to remove the brain from the cranium.
  • Make an incision on the left side of the body and remove all the internal organs, leaving the heart.
  • Dry the internal organs and store the liver, intestines, stomach, and liver in the canopic jars.
  • With wine, herbs, and spices, cleanse the inside of the body and dry by covering it with natron. Natron or salt is a substance that can absorb moisture in the body.
  • Leave the body in natron for 70 days.
  • After 40 days, fill the body with stuffing such as linen, sand, or sawdust for it to take shape.
  • Wrap the whole body with linen strands or shrouds after 70 days.
  • Finally, put the mummy inside the sarcophagus or stone coffin.

Ancient Egyptian Medical Doctors

  • Both males and females were accepted as physicians in Ancient Egypt .
  • The famous architect, Imhotep, was considered the first physician and was worshipped as the god of medicine and healing.
  • He argued that diseases occurred naturally and were not god-given punishments.
  • Peseshet was also a famous female physician and labeled the “Lady Overseer of Female Physicians”.
  • Doctors were often referred to as “wabau” which means ritually pure.
  • They were expected to bathe regularly and carefully.
  • General practitioners were often called “swnw” while those who specialized in the use of magic were referred to as “sau”.
  • Those who assisted the doctors were the midwives, masseurs, nurses, attendants, and seers.
  • Unlike these practitioners, there were only a few dentists present.
  • The first widely known dentist in the world was Hesy-Ra, the Chief of Dentists and Physician to the King under Djoser’s reign.
  • Medunefer, a known eye doctor.
  • Merit-Ptah, rumored to be the first female physician and scientist recorded in history.
  • Penthu, the Chief physician of Akhenaten.
  • Qar, a former royal physician.
  • Payeftjauemawyneith, the chief physician of Apries and Amasis.

Ancient Egyptian Medicine Worksheets

This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Ancient Egyptian Medicine across 36 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching about Ancient Egyptian Medicine, a time when Ancient Egyptian doctors had high knowledge in the medical field and could perform advanced medical practices.

ancient egypt mummification worksheet

Complete List Of Included Worksheets

  • Ancient Egyptian Medicine Facts
  • What’s Wrong?
  • Give Me My Medicine
  • Medical Books
  • What Do You Think?
  • Body Channel Theory
  • Doctors Are Heroes
  • Tell Me About It

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Ancient Egypt -  Mummification, presentation, worksheets and lesson plan.

Ancient Egypt - Mummification, presentation, worksheets and lesson plan.

Subject: History

Age range: 7-11

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ancient egypt mummification worksheet

2018 Update. These resources were originally based on a specific lesson observation, I have since included a massive amount of extras.

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When did the ancient Egyptians first mummify their dead?

Before the ancient Egyptians purposefully mummified their dead, the desert did it for them naturally.

The sarcophagus of a rich merchant lays on an archeological site in August 2005 in Giza, Egypt.

Ancient Egyptians are perhaps best known for the way they treated the dead — from constructing colossal pyramids to filling subterranean tombs with lavish treasures and artifacts. The Egyptians also famously mummified many of the recently deceased to preserve their bodies.

But when did people in ancient Egypt start mummifying their dead?

"The origins of Egyptian mummification, for which there is clear scientific evidence, is [circa] 4,300 B.C.," Stephen Buckley , a researcher at the University of York in the U.K. who co-wrote two papers on the topic, told Live Science in an email. "We may find it goes back earlier still," Buckley said.

This evidence includes 6,300 year-old mummy wrappings that were found at an ancient Egyptian cemetery at the site of Mostagedda, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) south of Cairo. The burials were excavated in the early 20th century, and the wrappings were brought to the U.K. and are now in the Bolton Museum as Buckley and colleagues noted in the PLOS One study in 2014.

In the study, the scientists tested the wrappings and found that they contain resins typically used in mummification. The tests indicate that these resins were made from a variety of ingredients such as plant oil, animal fats, wax and plant gum. Similar resins were also used in later time periods by the ancient Egyptians for mummification , the scientists noted.

To put the 4,300 B.C. date into context, this is about a millennium before the Egyptians developed hieroglyphs and about 1,500 years before they started building pyramids . It is also about a millennium before Egypt became unified under a single pharaoh .  

Natural mummification

While the oldest evidence for using artificial means to mummify bodies dates back around 4,300 B.C., Egyptians underwent natural mummification in even earlier times.

Natural mummification "is an accidental process caused by favourable burial conditions," such as being buried in hot, dry sand, Buckley said. "The Egyptians didn't start to naturally mummify their dead at any point in time in terms of a conscious act," Buckley said.

Salima Ikram , an Egyptology professor at the American University in Cairo, told Live Science in an email that the earliest examples of naturally mummified mummies date from 5000 B.C. if not earlier.

— Ancient Egyptian mummy masks, tombs and 'god of silence' statue discovered at Saqqara

— 7 famous mummies and secrets they've revealed about the ancient world

— Sphinx may have been built from a natural rock feature eroded by wind, study claims

Even after artificial mummification was developed, many Egyptians were still naturally mummified because they were unable to afford artificial mummification and so were buried in the desert. The "majority of ancient Egyptians were simply put in a hole in the ground, with no preparation" and could accidently become naturally mummified, Buckley said.

Ikram that "we don't know what was in the minds of the ancient Egyptians. But, whomever was put into a sandy grave, far from water, and not enclosed with a reed mat/coffin or in a skin, would have been naturally mummified."

As Christianity spread in Egypt between the second and fifth centuries A.D., the use of artificial mummification declined, according to the Royal Ontario Museum . While ancient Egyptian religion emphasized the importance of preserving the body for the afterlife, Christianity did not, the museum noted.

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Owen Jarus

Owen Jarus is a regular contributor to Live Science who writes about archaeology and humans' past. He has also written for The Independent (UK), The Canadian Press (CP) and The Associated Press (AP), among others. Owen has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Toronto and a journalism degree from Ryerson University. 

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Ancient Origins

Dealing in the Past: How Did Ancient Egyptians Get Nicotine and Cocaine?

  • Read Later  

The discovery of traces of nicotine and cocaine within 3,000-year-old human remains, which came to be known as Egypt’s cocaine mummies, raised curious questions amongst historians. Challenging existing historical narratives and prompting inquiries about potential transoceanic contact in antiquity, these controversial findings disrupted conventional narratives and prompted scholars to reconsider the scope of cultural exchanges in antiquity.

An examination in the 1970s of the mummy of Ramesses II revealed fragments of tobacco leaves in its abdomen. (CC BY SA 3.0)

An examination in the 1970s of the mummy of Ramesses II revealed fragments of tobacco leaves in its abdomen. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

What Makes Traces of Nicotine and Cocaine in Egyptian Mummies Peculiar?

Today, many people believe that  Christopher Columbus  was not the first non-American to set foot in the New World. Current research has argued that the  Vikings , Chinese, Greeks and Italians may have all been his predecessors. Some experts have even posited that ancient Egyptians were in the Americas as far back as 1,000 BC. How they've reached this conclusion is rather surprising.

  • Mysterious Cocaine Mummies: Do They Prove Ancient Voyages Between Egypt and Americas?
  • Evidence Accumulates for Ancient Transoceanic Voyages, Says Geographer

In 1992, esteemed forensic toxicologist Dr. Svetla Balabanova announced a startling discovery. While examining the mummy of a member of the ancient Egyptian elite, she found traces of hashish,  nicotine  and  cocaine , not only on the hair of Henut Taui but also on other mummies under analysis. The question soon arose: How did  Lady Henut Taui  have access to substances derived from the  tobacco  and coca plants as far back as 3,000 years ago?

To understand the conundrum, it’s important to remember that nicotine originates from tobacco leaves, while  cocaine  originates from  coca leaves , both of which are native to the Americas. In fact, up until now the predominant belief was that 3,000 years ago these plants were only grown in the Americas and were not exported across the Atlantic Ocean until the 19th century.

The confusion which resulted from her research led academics to question the mummy’s authenticity or if the tests had been contaminated. One study published in the journal  Antiquity  suggested that the answer to these bizarre results could lie in the post-excavation histories of the so-called cocaine mummies. Meanwhile, Balabanova’s results have continued to be used as proof by some theorists that ancient Egyptians reached the Americas millennia before Columbus.

Egyptian tomb painting from 1450 BC. Caption: "Officer with sounding pole...is telling crew to come ahead slow. Engineers with cat-o'-nine-tails assuring proper response from engines." (Public domain)

Egyptian tomb painting from 1450 BC. Caption: "Officer with sounding pole...is telling crew to come ahead slow. Engineers with cat-o'-nine-tails assuring proper response from engines." ( Public domain )

The Seafaring Abilities of the Ancient Egyptians

Archaeological findings show that Egyptians were adept at navigating the seas. Notably,  Queen Hatshepsut  is known to have funded an expedition to the enigmatic  Land of Punt  circa 1477 BC, exemplifying their seafaring prowess. A relief portraying this journey discovered at  Deir el-Bahri , situated in modern-day Luxor, further illuminates their maritime ventures.

The mural at Deir el-Bahri depicts large ships packed with men, gold, trees and exotic animals. The flora and fauna visible in the artwork is thought to have existed along the coasts of African and the Arabian Peninsula. These findings suggest that the ancient Egyptians could indeed complete longer oceanic voyages.

The discovery of an ancient harbor in 2013 during excavations at Wadi al-Jarf on the Red Sea coast of Egypt, furthered the belief in the seafaring capacity of the ancient Egyptians. Timber, rigging, reed mats, steering oars, cedar planks and limestone anchors were all unearthed within this ancient harbor complex, making it one of the oldest harbor structures found to date. Some even argued that the harbor may have been used for Hatshepsut’s voyage to the Land of Punt.

Members of Hatshepsut's trading expedition to the mysterious 'Land of Punt' from this pharaoh's elegant mortuary temple at Deir El-Bahri. (CC BY 2.0)

Members of Hatshepsut's trading expedition to the mysterious 'Land of Punt' from this pharaoh's elegant mortuary temple at Deir El-Bahri. ( CC BY 2.0 )

Exploring Transoceanic Links: Ancient Egyptians in the Americas?

The question of whether ancient Egyptians reached the Americas remains a subject of debate among scholars. While there is no conclusive evidence supporting direct contact between ancient Egypt and the Americas, which could explain the enigma of the  cocaine mummies , some researchers point to intriguing clues that suggest the possibility.

  • 6 Discoveries that Show the Pre-Columbian Americas Traded Across the Oceans
  • Sea-Farers from the Levant the First to Set Foot in the Americas: Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions Found Along the Coast of Uruguay

Possible evidence of an unproven Egyptian voyage to the Americas in the Marble Region of the Grand Canyon was reported in April 1909 in  The Arizona Gazette , fueling speculation about ancient transoceanic voyages which could have aided in the trade of nicotine and cocaine.

The article stated that two explorers, funded by the Smithsonian, found various Egyptian artifacts within caves, including tablets with hieroglyphics; “Explorations in Grand Canyon; Mysteries of Immense Rich Cavern Being Brought to Light; Jordan Is Enthused; Remarkable Find Indicates Ancient People Migrated from Orient.”

The only problem is that the Smithsonian has no known record of what would have been a ground-breaking discovery.  The Arizona Gazette  was also the only newspaper to have published the story, making it a probable example of  fake news .

Such a discovery would have offered compelling evidence in support of the theory that ancient Egyptians reached the Americas. However, it might have posed a challenge to the traditional narrative celebrated each year on Columbus Day, which commemorates the "discovery" of the Americas by Christopher Columbus.

Top image: An artist’s imaginary depiction of a pharaoh burning herbs in a ritual. Source: Fair use

By  Joanna Gillan

Balabanova, S. et al. 1992. “First Identification of Drugs in Egyptian Mummies” in  Naturwissenschaften  79, p. 358.

Cansford Labs. 24 April 2019. “Hair raising cases in hair testing: are ‘cocaine mummies’ real or fake?” in Cansford Laboratories. Available at:  https://blog.cansfordlabs.co.uk/hair-testing-cocaine-mummies-real-or-fake

Darin, P. 13 November 2013. “Curious History: Ancient Egyptians May Have Traded With the New World” in The Epoch Times. Available at:  https://www.theepochtimes.com/bright/curious-history-ancient-egyptians-may-have-traded-with-the-new-world-358318

Kearnet, M. V. 20 April 2019. “Cocaine Mummies & the search for narcotics in historic collections” in UCL. Available at:  https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/researchers-in-museums/2019/04/20/cocaine-mummies-the-search-for-narcotics-in-historic-collections/

Rhodes, J. 31 August 2009. “175 Years of the Smithsonian’s Most Untrue Stories” in Smithsonian Magazine. Available at:  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/urban-legends-about-the-smithsonian-135407460/

I wouldn't be surprised if seafarers were more widely traveled in antiquity, even crossing the Atlantic at its narrowest point between West Africa and South America, then sailing up or down the coast.

As for drugs use, I read Roman physicians knew about the pain-killing properties of opium. They would burn it and let soldiers inhale the smoke before their battle wounds were treated. It was unlikely to have been widely available but for these who received it it must truly have been a blessing.

And of course there is abundant evidence that tobacco & coca were grown in other parts of the world apart from S.America, isn't there? Oh, wait a minute .....

Plants of all kinds do not limit themselves to grow within human-defined borders. They grow anywhere that conditions are suitable for them. Plants that grow in one area today may have grown somewhere else last year. Plants can cross oceans with no help from humans. To transport plant seeds long-distance is the task of birds. There is no reason to believe that a plant that would thrive in south America would not also thrive in the general vicinity of Egypt. That a plant is extinct or missing from one particular place does not imply that it has not been there at some point in time.

"The flora and fauna shown in the artwork is thought to have existed _along_ _the_ _coasts_ of African and the Arabian Peninsula. These findings show that the ancient Egyptians could complete some _longer_ _oceanic_ voyages."

Costal navigation and oceanic navigation is not the same. A voyage along some coast is not at all the same discipline as crossing an ocean.You can not conclude that because some people could sail along a coastline they could also cross an ocean.

Frequently Asked Questions

Traces of cocaine were discovered in the remains of certain ancient Egyptian mummies, sparking intrigue and debate among historians. This controversial finding raised questions about potential transoceanic contact and cultural exchange in antiquity, challenging traditional narratives of ancient civilizations.

Traces of nicotine and cocaine were identified in the remains of some ancient Egyptian mummies. The presence of these substances, derived from plants native to the Americas, have been used to argue that there was transoceanic contact and cultural exchange in antiquity between ancient Egypt and the Americas.

Ancient Egyptians utilized a variety of substances for medicinal and recreational purposes, including opium, cannabis, and various herbal remedies. Evidence from archaeological findings and historical texts suggests a complex pharmacopoeia, reflecting the medical knowledge and cultural practices of ancient Egyptian society.

Joanna Gillan's picture

Joanna Gillan is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. 

Joanna completed a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) degree in Australia and published research in the field of Educational Psychology. She has a rich and varied career, ranging from teaching... Read More

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The Egyptians may have the most famous mummies, but they are not the oldest by any means.

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A photo of a sculpture that serves as a monument to the Chinchorro people. The sculpture is of a large humanoid with a mask that is similar to those found on the mummies. The body is made up of different textures to represent the various material the Chinchorro used to wrap their dead. It is standing against a backdrop of an arid hillside.

This is a monument to the Chinchorro people, who were responsible for making the oldest known mummies. 

Image credit: Yastay via Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY-SA 4.0 ); cropped

When you hear the word “mummy”, we bet your mind goes straight to the dried and bandaged remains of long-preserved Egyptian pharaohs . However, despite their fame, these specimens are not the oldest mummies in the world. That title belongs to the Chinchorro people of Chile’s Atacama Desert who mummified their dead 7,000 years ago.

The Chinchorro people, an ancient culture of marine hunter-gatherers, were the first to settle in the north of Chile and the south of Peru, around 5450 BCE. Soon after their arrival, the Chinchorro began a novel funerary practice of preserving their dead in the dry desert sands that surrounded them.

These ancient cemeteries are now inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for their archaeological value, as they not only provide insights into this strange form of mummification , but also how the Chinchorro communities functioned, and how they were socially and spiritually structured. Importantly, unlike the Egyptians who reserved mummification for their social elite, the Chinchorro offered it as a ritual for everyone .

So how did the Chinchorro mummify their dead? Well, the process was different to how the Egyptians approached it . First, the body would be stripped of its skin and its organs removed. Once the body’s cavities were dry, the skin would be sewn back on. The bodies were also sometimes wrapped in elaborate materials, such as reeds, sea lion skins, and alpaca wool.

Then, the faces would be covered in clay , where a mask was then placed that had openings for the eyes and mouth. Finally, the mummies were given wigs made of human hair before being buried in the desert, the hope being that the arid conditions would preserve them forever.

The first Chinchorro mummy was documented in 1917 by Max Uhle, a German archaeologist who discovered some of the bodies on a beach. Clearly these specimens were old, but, at the time, it was not possible to date them accurately. Then, with the development of carbon dating techniques, it was possible to date the mummies to being more than 7,000 years old.

mummified human with mask over the face lying on a table in a conservation room

Since the first discovery over 100 years ago, hundreds of other mummies have been found in the desert. Some of these have been discovered during building works or unearthed by curious animals.

The communities living in Arica, in northern Chile, have been aware of these special bodies for a long time. This is because the bodies are close to the surface, so they are easy to discover. As such, these people have learnt to live with the dead that are scattered throughout their hometowns. They see them as part of their heritage and feel responsible for taking care of them.

Unfortunately, due to climate change , many of the Chinchorro graves are being unearthed by abnormal weather events, which exposes the bodies to the elements. This will have serious impacts on their conservation for the future as archaeologists struggle to fund efforts to recover and preserve them.

“The museums are a bit overwhelmed with all this material,” Bernardo Arriaza, a leading expert on the Chinchorro at the University of Tarapacá in Arica, told the Guardian .

Even those held within museums are now threatened by changing climate conditions. The rise in ambient humidity has led some mummies to sprout mould, while others have fallen to dry rot or hungry insects. All these challenges are exacerbated by the variety of materials that cover the mummies, each needing its own conditions for storage.

In 2022, a new climate-controlled museum near Arica was being constructed to house the Chinchorro mummies. It is hoped that this sophisticated facility, worth around $19 million, may help protect these valuable artifacts from the distant past.

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Mummified animals Napoleon's scientists brought back from Egypt sparked a pre-Darwinian debate about evolution

  • Decades before Darwin , there was a debate over transformism, the idea that species change over time.
  • Two colleagues at the French natural history museum were on opposite sides of issue.
  • They hoped to settle the debate by unwrapping ancient mummies and comparing them to modern ones.

Insider Today

Throughout the early 1800s, the question of whether animals could turn into new species was hotly debated in scientific circles.

In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte brought a slew of savants — geologists, engineers, and other scientists — on his unsuccessful attempt to take over Egypt. A collection of mummified animals that the scholars brought back from Egypt seemed to hold the key to the question of species transformation.

Naturalists Georges Cuvier and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, colleagues at the French Museum of Natural History, represented the two sides of the debate.

Cuvier mocked Lamarck in his obituary

In 1832, a mocking eulogy was read before the French Academy of Sciences. The honoree, Lamarck, and the obituary’s writer, Cuvier, were both dead. 

When recognizing the death of a colleague Cuvier had written, one should both commend their “useful works” while also calling attention to “more questionable” ideas that resulted from a “lively imagination.” 

In this case, Cuvier was bashing Lamarck's theory of transformism. Lamarck thought that over a long period of time, the simplest animals became more complex and transformed into entirely new species. This was nonsense to Cuvier, who thought species could never change.

Naturalists Cuvier and Lamarck had first sparred three decades earlier when a mummified ibis arrived at the museum.

The ancient bird was indistinguishable from a modern one, seeming to prove Cuvier was right.

What is transformism? 

In his elegy, Cuvier mocked Lamarck’s suggestion that a “desire” to swim creates webbed feet on an aquatic bird or lengthens the leg of another species that prefers not to get wet.

This was nearly 60 years before Charles Darwin published his theory of natural selection. At the time, some of the biggest questions in natural history were why animals went extinct, and new ones appeared after big gaps in the fossil record.

Lamarck is probably best known for writing that giraffes got their long necks by stretching for leaves and passing down that trait to their offspring. It wasn’t a completely new idea, but Lamarck was unique in saying such behavior could gradually lead to a new species. 

He wrote that species were a convenient way for humans to catalog living beings. Since animals were constantly changing, a species was just a temporary category. 

Cuvier, one of the founders of comparative anatomy, took a different view. Species were permanent. But he couldn’t deny that at certain intervals in the fossil record, new types of animals cropped up that never existed before. 

Every so often, a natural catastrophe led to a new "epoch,” Cuvier thought . Some species went extinct ; some suddenly appeared. If Lamarck was right, Cuvier said, there would be all sorts of in-between fossils, halfway between one species and another. 

Geoffroy finds mummies in Egypt

Mummified animals that were thousands of years old seemed like a perfect entrypoint to look for evidence of change between ancient animals and their descendants.

Among Napoleon's savants was Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire , a naturalist who dissected every mongoose, fox, crocodile , and lungfish he could get his hands on. 

The zoologist was enthusiastic about collecting animals, alive and dead. While descending into ruins, he saw his first mummies : ancient birds stacked like wine bottles in a cellar. 

Ancient Egyptians revered many animals, including the ibis. To preserve the birds, they treated them with drying salts and poured oil and resin over the remains before wrapping them up and placing them in pots. 

When Geoffroy returned from Egypt, he brought some of the wrapped ibises, cats, jackals , crocodiles, and other animals with him. Cuvier was eager to examine them. The mummification process worked well enough that even some of the “ tiniest hairs ” were still intact. 

When Cuvier compared the bones of the long-dead ibises to modern birds, they were very similar.

Lamarck agreed. But the mummies were only 3,000 years old. At the time no one knew how old the planet was, but a few thousand years was “ infinitely small ” in the grand scheme of the Earth, Lamarck said in a lecture to his students.

It would be odd to see a new species in just a few millennia, he later wrote , “for the position and climate of Egypt are still very nearly what they were in those times.” It took both time and a unique environment to lead to a new species, he thought. 

Cuvier, however, felt his belief in the unchanging nature of species had been vindicated. "I have shown that it is at the present time precisely as it was in the time of the  Pharaohs ," he later wrote of the mummified ibis. Time and climate weren't enough to significantly alter the species.

He was wrong, just as Lamarck was incorrect about the mechanics of heredity. 

Darwin’s predecessor 

The evidence from the mummies wasn’t enough to squash the debate over transformism, despite Cuvier’s powerful reputation. 

With the publication of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” in 1859, the whole debate flared to life again, this time backed by the naturalist’s wide-ranging observations and extensive research.

Over two decades after Lamarck’s death, Darwin named him as one of his predecessors, albeit calling his views “erroneous.” The creator of the theory of evolution by natural selection admitted he was far from the first to note that “species undergo modification.”

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7 times recent ancient Egyptian discoveries awed us

Posted: February 22, 2024 | Last updated: February 22, 2024

<p>                     Ancient Egypt has many secrets to tell, and recently, archaeologists made some fascinating findings, including the tomb of a previously unknown queen, a falcon shrine with a cryptic message and a massive tunnel beneath a temple. Here are some of the most amazing recent discoveries at ancient Egyptian archaeological sites.                    </p>                                      <p>                     <em>By Jennifer Nalewicki</em>                   </p>

From mummies with gold-plated tongues to a pyramid built for a previously unknown queen, here are 10 spectacular discoveries about ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egypt has many secrets to tell, and recently, archaeologists made some fascinating findings, including the tomb of a previously unknown queen, a falcon shrine with a cryptic message and a massive tunnel beneath a temple. 

Here are some of the most amazing recent discoveries at ancient Egyptian archaeological sites.

<p>                     Archaeologists stumbled upon a real head-scratcher after discovering a 1,700-year-old shrine featuring 15 headless falcons on a pedestal and a stone monument depicting two unknown gods in Berenike, a port on the Red Sea. Found next to the pedestal was an iron harpoon, but what really dumbfounded researchers was the inscription in Greek they spotted in one of the shrine's back rooms, which read, "It is improper to boil a head in here."                   </p>

Falcon shrine and a cryptic message about boiling heads

Archaeologists stumbled upon a real head-scratcher after discovering a 1,700-year-old shrine featuring 15 headless falcons on a pedestal and a stone monument depicting two unknown gods in Berenike, a port on the Red Sea. Found next to the pedestal was an iron harpoon, but what really dumbfounded researchers was the inscription in Greek they spotted in one of the shrine's back rooms, which read, "It is improper to boil a head in here."

<p>                     Here's further proof that even ancient Egyptians liked to have a good time. While exploring a burial site in Akhetaten (modern-day Amarna), a city south of Cairo, archaeologists found a treasure trove of gold artifacts, including a necklace and three rings. One piece of jewelry stood out for its engraving of Bes, also known as the "god of fun." Ancient images of the fun-loving deity can be found throughout Egypt. He is often depicted as a dwarf who not only enjoyed playing music and partying but also protected women during childbirth.                   </p>

Gold ring featuring the likeness of the "god of fun"

Here's further proof that even ancient Egyptians liked to have a good time. While exploring a burial site in Akhetaten (modern-day Amarna), a city south of Cairo, archaeologists found a treasure trove of gold artifacts, including a necklace and three rings. One piece of jewelry stood out for its engraving of Bes, also known as the "god of fun." Ancient images of the fun-loving deity can be found throughout Egypt. He is often depicted as a dwarf who not only enjoyed playing music and partying but also protected women during childbirth.

<p>                     Before giving birth, some ancient Egyptian women would get tattoos as a form of protection during childbirth. Archaeologists discovered six examples of this practice while studying mummies buried at Deir el-Medina, an archaeological site located along the banks of the Nile River. Finding ancient tattoos is a rarity, since the skin would need to be preserved and archaeologists make it a practice to not unwrap mummies. However, in this case, portions of the bodies were exposed, including the lower back of a woman whose ancient ink included black lines and a depiction of Bes, a deity that protected women during childbirth.                   </p>

Protective childbirth tattoos

Before giving birth, some ancient Egyptian women would get tattoos as a form of protection during childbirth. Archaeologists discovered six examples of this practice while studying mummies buried at Deir el-Medina, an archaeological site located along the banks of the Nile River. Finding ancient tattoos is a rarity, since the skin would need to be preserved and archaeologists make it a practice to not unwrap mummies. However, in this case, portions of the bodies were exposed, including the lower back of a woman whose ancient ink included black lines and a depiction of Bes, a deity that protected women during childbirth.

<p>                     Archaeologists discovered a 4,281-foot-long (1,305 meters) tunnel beneath a temple in Taposiris Magna, an ancient city located west of Alexandria, Egypt. It's thought that, at one time, the massive tunnel was used to transport water to citizens and is an exact replica of the Eupalinos Tunnel on the Greek island of Samos, which is considered an engineering marvel.                    </p>

Vast water tunnel

Archaeologists discovered a 4,281-foot-long (1,305 meters) tunnel beneath a temple in Taposiris Magna, an ancient city located west of Alexandria, Egypt. It's thought that, at one time, the massive tunnel was used to transport water to citizens and is an exact replica of the Eupalinos Tunnel on the Greek island of Samos, which is considered an engineering marvel. 

<p>                     A painting containing birds both in flight and perched next to a marsh is so detailed that modern-day researchers used a copy of it to name the exact species painted on the 3,300-year-old artwork. Archaeologists found the "masterpiece" a century ago on the walls of a palace at the ancient Egyptian capital of Amarna, but it wasn't until recently that researchers identified the species depicted in the work, including a pied kingfisher (<em>Ceryle rudis</em>), a red-backed shrike (<em>Lanius collurio</em>) and a white wagtail (<em>Motacilla alba</em>).                   </p>

Birds in an Egyptian "masterpiece"

A painting containing birds both in flight and perched next to a marsh is so detailed that modern-day researchers used a copy of it to name the exact species painted on the 3,300-year-old artwork. Archaeologists found the "masterpiece" a century ago on the walls of a palace at the ancient Egyptian capital of Amarna, but it wasn't until recently that researchers identified the species depicted in the work, including a pied kingfisher ( Ceryle rudis ), a red-backed shrike ( Lanius collurio ) and a white wagtail ( Motacilla alba ).

<p>                     Archaeologists completely flipped the script on what's taught in school about mummification. Ancient Egyptians used the burial practice not to preserve the bodies of the deceased but as a way to guide them toward divinity. The new understanding, which archaeologists call "a complete 180," is the focus of an exhibition called "Golden Mummies of Egypt," at the University of Manchester's Manchester Museum in England.                    </p>

New understanding of mummification

Archaeologists completely flipped the script on what's taught in school about mummification. Ancient Egyptians used the burial practice not to preserve the bodies of the deceased but as a way to guide them toward divinity. The new understanding, which archaeologists call "a complete 180," is the focus of an exhibition called "Golden Mummies of Egypt," at the University of Manchester's Manchester Museum in England. 

<p>                     On the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tut's tomb, a group of archaeologists unearthed the tomb of a previously unknown royal: Queen Neith. The discovery was made at Saqqara, an archaeological site in Giza, and is the first recorded mention of her in the archaeological record. In addition to the tomb, researchers found numerous coffins and mummies, some of which belonged to King Tut's closest generals and advisers.                   </p>

Tomb of an unknown queen

On the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tut's tomb, a group of archaeologists unearthed the tomb of a previously unknown royal: Queen Neith. The discovery was made at Saqqara, an archaeological site in Giza, and is the first recorded mention of her in the archaeological record. In addition to the tomb, researchers found numerous coffins and mummies, some of which belonged to King Tut's closest generals and advisers.

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IMAGES

  1. EGYPTIAN MUMMIES & MUMMIFICATION Word Search Puzzle Worksheet Activity

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  2. The Ancient Egyptians Mummification Information Print Out

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  3. History: Cloze Activity Ancient Egypt

    ancient egypt mummification worksheet

  4. Ancient Egyptian Mummification Reading Worksheets and Answer Keys

    ancient egypt mummification worksheet

  5. Ancient Egypt Mummification Reading Comprehension & Sequencing Worksheet

    ancient egypt mummification worksheet

  6. All About Mummies

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  1. Ancient Egypt: Why Was Mummification So Important?

  2. History of ancient Egypt is🤯👀 #facts #historyfacts #egypt #shorts #shortsvideo #fy #historyfacts

COMMENTS

  1. PDF WORKSHEET MUMMIES

    1. MUMMIES Suggested Activity Find out what a mummy is from your history book or the internet. Investigate where the practice of mummification came from in Ancient Egypt and write a list of points summarizing Egyptian beliefs in the afterlife. 3. Read the selection below with Herodotus' report on mummification in Ancient Egypt. 4.

  2. Ancient Egyptian Mummies Worksheets and Lesson Pack

    This handy Ancient Egypt pack contains everything you'll need to teach your elementary History class about Ancient Egyptian mummies and mummification. This resource includes an informative PowerPoint, as well as a canopic jar matching organ worksheet and a process of mummification worksheet. Show more Related Searches

  3. Mummification instruction worksheet for KS2

    This mummification instructions worksheet is a fantasic addition to your KS2 History lessons it walks students through the mummification methods that Ancient Egyptians would have used to embalm their loved ones. Show more Related Searches

  4. FREE!

    Learn about Ancient Egyptian Mummification the easy way. This handy worksheet gives you all the information you will need to teach your children about Ancient Egyptian mummification, with pictures to explain this interesting practice. Show more Related Searches

  5. Mummification KS2

    18 reviews History Ancient Egypt Activities How can I teach the process of Mummification in KS2? Mummification is a process where the skin and flesh of a corpse can be preserved. This particular process can either occur naturally or intentionally.

  6. Ancient Egyptian Mummification

    pdf, 3.68 MB This resource delves into the ancient Egyptian beliefs and practices surrounding the afterlife, including the origins of mummification, the process of mummification, the use of canopic jars, funerary rituals, the Book of the Dead, and the Underworld.

  7. Ancient Egypt instructions for mummification

    Age range: 7-11 Resource type: Worksheet/Activity File previews doc, 172 KB doc, 171.5 KB Here are some detailed instructions, with pictures, to show how the Ancient Egyptians would have mummified a body. PLEASE LEAVE FEEDBACK!Use to help explain this process to children.

  8. Interactive PDF: Home Learning: History: LKS2: Ancient Egypt: Mummies

    The worksheet focuses on mummification within the broader topic of ancient Egypt. Wrap up this fantastic interactive PDF, great to support home learning about mummies in ancient Egyptian times. Children can complete the activity on their electronic device so that there is no need to print anything. This activity consolidates children's ...

  9. Mummification KS2

    18 Reviews History Early People and Ancient Societies Egyptians How can I teach Mummification in KS2? Mummification is a process where the skin and flesh of a corpse can be preserved. This particular process can either occur naturally or intentionally.

  10. A Step by Step guide to Egyptian Mummification

    Ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife when someone died. Mummification helped someone reach the afterlife as they believed that an afterlife could only exist if there was a form the ka (soul) could repossess after death. Egyptians believed that the only way to do this was if the body was recognisable.

  11. Worksheet: Ancient Egypt

    pdf, 217.3 KB. Worksheet: Ancient Egypt - Mummification. PDF Download. Instructions: • Read the instructions and questions carefully before answering. • Use your knowledge of Egyptian history and mummification to answer the questions. • For short-answer questions, use underscore lines (_) to write your answers.

  12. Ancient Egypt Mummification Reading Comprehension & Sequencing Worksheet

    Products. $10.00 $19.75 Save $9.75. View Bundle. Ancient Civilizations Reading Comprehension Worksheet Mega Bundle. This reading comprehension mega bundle (122 products) contains several articles with comprehension questions. This includes Mesopotamia, ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, ancient Africa, ancient China, and Mesoamerica.

  13. Ancient Egypt Worksheets

    These worksheets will present new content and text on the series of different theme and concepts related to the ancient Egyptian civilization. We will explore the nature of their royalty and governing systems. We will also begin to tackle the reasoning and purpose behind the pyramids and sphinx.

  14. FREE!

    31 reviews History Ancient Egypt Activities Learn about Ancient Egyptian Mummification the easy way. This handy worksheet gives you all the information you will need to teach your children about Ancient Egyptian mummification, with pictures to explain this interesting practice. Show more Related Searches Ratings & Reviews Curriculum Links

  15. Ancient Egyptian Mummification Reading Worksheets and Answer Keys

    Description. This Ancient Egyptian mummification resource is an engaging and informative way to help your students learn and understand more about mummification in Ancient Egypt! After completing the reading passage about Ancient Egyptian mummification, students will answer questions based on the reading. Students will also fill in the seven ...

  16. Ancient Egypt: Mummification for Kids LKS2 Lesson Pack 3

    Mummification instructions worksheet for KS2; Ancient Egyptian Mummification Poster; Egyptian Mummification Page Borders How did the Egyptians mummify their dead? The whole mummification process was a long one - from beginning to end, it took 70 days.

  17. PDF Mummification worksheet

    Mummification Worksheet. Mummification in ancient Egypt was a very long and expensive process. From start to finish, it took about seventy days to embalm a body. Since the Egyptians believed that mummification was essential for passage to the afterlife, people were mummified and buried as well as they could possibly afford.

  18. Ancient Egypt Worksheets

    STW has thousands of worksheets for teaching students about geography and cultures around the world. If you're learning about ancient Egypt, consider reading the chapter book Magic Tree House: Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne. This page has many printable worksheets and activities to supplement the book.

  19. Ancient Egyptian Medicine Facts & Worksheets

    Ancient Egyptians practiced mummification, a process wherein the dead body is preserved. They also performed autopsies. Through this, the Ancient Egyptians were recognized to have a good understanding of human anatomy. Injuries. The ancient Egyptian physicians classified injuries into treatable injuries, contestable injuries, and untreatable ...

  20. Ancient Egypt

    Ancient Egypt - Mummification, presentation, worksheets and lesson plan. Subject: History Age range: 7-11 Resource type: Lesson (complete) File previews pdf, 7.9 MB key, 37.81 MB pptx, 39.96 MB pdf, 1.82 MB doc, 65.5 KB mov, 29.77 MB doc, 3.54 MB doc, 42 KB pptx, 39.96 MB doc, 55.5 KB doc, 31 KB doc, 1.72 MB doc, 42.5 KB key, 37.82 MB ppt, 754.5 KB

  21. When did the ancient Egyptians first mummify their dead?

    Similar resins were also used in later time periods by the ancient Egyptians for mummification, the scientists noted. To put the 4,300 B.C. date into context, ...

  22. Mummification KS2

    Mummification is a process where the skin and flesh of a corpse can be preserved. This particular process can either occur naturally or intentionally. When mummification happens naturally, it is through cold conditions, through acid or if the corpse is dry. Show more Related Searches

  23. Dealing in the Past: How Did Ancient Egyptians Get ...

    Explore the controversial discovery of nicotine and cocaine in Egypt's 3,000-year-old cocaine mummies, igniting speculation about ancient transoceanic contact. The discovery of traces of nicotine and cocaine within 3,000-year-old human remains, which came to be known as Egypt's cocaine mummies, raised curious questions amongst historians.

  24. Chile's Ancient Mummies Are Thousands Of Years Older Than The Egyptians

    All these challenges are exacerbated by the variety of materials that cover the mummies, each needing its own conditions for storage. In 2022, a new climate-controlled museum near Arica was being ...

  25. Steps of Mummification Activity for 3rd-5th Grade

    World History Civilizations Ancient Egypt How do I use the Steps of Mummification Activity in my class? Reinforce learning about mummies in ancient Egypt with our Steps of Mummification Activity. Print and distribute this activity for a great independent activity.

  26. Mummified Birds From Egypt Led to Evolutionary Debate Before Darwin

    Geoffroy finds mummies in Egypt Mummified animals that were thousands of years old seemed like a perfect entrypoint to look for evidence of change between ancient animals and their descendants.

  27. 7 times recent ancient Egyptian discoveries awed us

    Courtesy Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities From mummies with gold-plated tongues to a pyramid built for a previously unknown queen, here are 10 spectacular discoveries about ancient Egypt.