- Technology helps researchers learn more about ancient history without damaging priceless artifacts.
- Mummification was an important part of Ancient Egyptian culture.
- Animals were mummified to keep their owners company in the afterlife.
- Body systems
- The skeleton
- Human body
- Ancient Egypt
Spark a discussion
- What is the human body made of?
- What kinds of technology can we use to see inside a human body?
- Why is it useful or important to be able to see inside a human body?
- What happens to dead bodies over time?
- What do you know about the ancient Egyptians?
- Why do you think the ancient Egyptians made mummies?
- What materials do you think were used to wrap mummies?
- How does mummification work?
- How can we examine mummies without damaging them?
Show this visual before the film and ask the children how they could find out what was inside without unwrapping it.
Show this visual before the film and ask the children how we can see inside the human body.
Show this visual before the film and ask the children to share what they already know about ancient Egypt.
Show this visual after the film to reinforce key scientific language.
INVESTIGATE how salt, bandages and moisture affect decomposition by making mummified apples in the classroom.
Other activity ideas
- RESEARCH the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, particularly those relating to death and burial practices, and present findings to the class.
- CONSTRUCT model animal mummies using bandages, paper mache paste and other art materials.
- OBSERVE what happens to a piece of food over a period of time when it is left in sunlight, and then discuss the process of decomposition.
- CREATE a large poster of the human body, labelling as many different bones and organs as the children can identify.
Duration: 45 minutes
- 1 apple (cut into quarters)
- 4 small containers or disposable plastic cups
- 4 small trays or plates
- Salt mixture (1 part salt to 1 part bicarbonate of soda)
- Protective gloves
- Safety goggles
- Lab coats or aprons
- Planning an investigation activity sheet
- Weighing scales (optional)
This activity helps the students to understand how mummification works, by conducting an investigation into the effects of salt, moisture and bandages on decomposition. Note: The apples will need to be left undisturbed for at least one week before the students can gather their results.
- Ask the students to discuss the following questions in groups:
- What do you know about the process of making a mummy?
- How do you think mummification works?
- Which piece of apple has decomposed the most?
- Which piece of apple is preserved the most?
- What do you notice about the piece of apple that was covered in salt?
Note: The students should notice that the piece of apple that was in water has decomposed the most, and the piece that was in the salt mixture has been preserved the most.
Cover the best-preserved apple with a fresh layer of salt/bicarbonate of soda mixture. Leave for another 1–2 weeks, to complete the mummification process!
- Dead bodies will naturally decompose due the action of fungi and bacteria. Temperature, the presence of water and the presence of oxygen all affect the rate of decomposition.
- Mummification is a process of preserving dead bodies and preventing decomposition. The ancient Egyptians believed that mummification helped to prepare the dead for the afterlife.
- Egyptian mummification involved removing the internal organs and placing them in separate jars, then covering the body in salt to remove moisture. The body was then wrapped in linen, ready for burial.
- X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation. They pass through soft tissue but not bone, and so can be used to produce detailed internal images of the human body.
- CT scanners take multiple X-rays and use them to create a 3D image of inside the body. These machines can also be used to look inside mummies without having to open the bandages.
- The process of preserving a dead body and wrapping it in strips of cloth.
- CT scanner
- A machine that scans different parts of the body using X-ray radiation, creating a 3D image.
- To rot and break down into smaller and smaller parts.