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Lesson Plan #:AELP-SPS001
Submitted by: Connie Armstrong
Email: carmstrong@mds38.k12.az.us
School/University/Affiliation: Madison No. 1 Middle School, 5525 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ  85016
Date: October 21, 1999

Grade Level(s): 6, 7, 8


  • Science/Process Skills
  • Social Studies/Archaeology

Duration:  One hour a week for 5 weeks for the actual mummification.  More time for content preparation and/or extended activities.

Description:  This lesson provides students with the opportunity to develop their process skills by engaging in a mummification process and methodologically documenting the process.

Goals: Students will:

  • experience the scientific process of mummification.
  • develop an understanding that mummification was an essential part of the religion of Ancient Egypt.
  • Objective(s): Students will be able to:

  • engage in the scientific process of mummification.
  • follow through and document the process over a long period of time.
  • Materials:

    • a whole chicken for each group of 4 to 6 students
    • plastic gloves
    • salt
    • spices
    • paper towels
    • zip-lock freezer strength plastic bags – gallon size
    • gauze strips
    • plastic containers to hold chicken in the bag in case of leakage

    Procedure: 1. Wearing gloves, students will remove entrails from the chicken. These can also be preserved in smaller baggies and put in baby food jars.  Students can decorate these with clay heads of Egyptian gods – canopic jars.  Entrails can also be discarded.

    2.  At a sink, thoroughly rinse both inside and out of the chicken.  Do this until the liquid runs clear.

    3.  Each group needs a large supply of paper towels.  Dry the chicken inside and out, especially under the legs and wings.  THIS IS CRITICAL. It is the moisture which creates problems in the process.

    4.  Each group needs about 1/2 cup spices.  Any spice which is cheap and will smell good will do.  The purpose of the spices is to mask the order of decaying.  They don’t serve any purpose for the chemical process of mummification.  Rub the spices all over the chicken.

    5.  Each group will need a whole container of 26  oz. of table salt. (The Egyptians used natron.)  Salt is the closest thing to this.  Rub the salt over the entire body.  Make sure every inch of the body is covered and dry, dry, dry.

    6.  Fill the cavity with salt.

    7.  Place each chicken in the zip-lock bag.  Seal.  Place in tubs or something waterproof.  Also store away from direct sunlight.

    8.  As the process occurs, there will be drainage from the carcass.

    9.  Once a week for 4 or 5 weeks, someone must open the bag and drain off the liquid.  Each chicken must be re-salted, re-spiced, and placed in a clean bag.  Refill the cavity also.

    10. Repeat this process until there is no more accumulation of liquid in the bags.

    11. Wrap the mummy in gauze strips or ripped muslin strips.  Decorate with authentic Egyptian amulets, medallions, jewels, etc.

    12. Students can create a sarcophagus for their mummy.  Use shoe boxes.  Spray box with gravel paint.  Decorate with hieroglyphics and pictures of Egyptian gods.

    13. Students can bury the sarcophagus and dig it up in the spring.  The mummy will be in the same condition.

    14.  Students can keep a journal of the process.


    Students are assessed on their methodological documentation of the process.

    Useful Internet Resources:

    Newton’s Apple – Mummies

    Neferchichi’s Tomb

    The History of Ancient Egypt

    Themes – Ancient Egypt

    Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Mimi Norton – Solano Elementary