How do you mummify a body? A Peruvian mummy. (Thinkstock)
How do you mummify a body?
Lexile

You asked us, how do you mummify a body?
 
Assuming simple curiosity is driving your question, the answer depends on whom you ask.
 
The ancient Egyptians would say if you had enough wealth and status, special priests could preserve you. Forever. 

First, they pull out your brain and internal organs, except your heart. The heart stays. Then they dry out your body with a kind of salt. Most of your organs would be preserved in jars, but your body would get wrapped up in strips of linen and layers of resin before being sealed in a coffin.
 
Their technique worked pretty well. But they weren't the first to go mummy. Two thousand years earlier, the Chinchorro of Chile and Peru were in the habit of skinning, dismembering and disemboweling bodies. After that they would putt them back together with sticks, straw and plant fibers. Then they'd paint the bodies.
 
More recently, nature did the dirty work for the Inca. They made sacrifices to their gods by bringing kids high up into the Andes Mountains. The kids' bodies became mummified by the dry atmosphere and extreme cold.
 
Peat bogs, glaciers and deserts can have the same effect. The oxygen-deprived acidic, cold, hot and dry conditions of these environments desiccate bodies and stop decomposition au natural.
 
So basically, take your pick. Wait, I mean, not really though, right? 

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why did Egyptians use salt?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (213)
  • rachaels-ver
    5/11/2016 - 01:25 p.m.

    That's disgusting. I have learned about this before but the picture are nasty. never want to read this again. Go human body parts and biology.

  • giavannac-orv
    5/11/2016 - 03:48 p.m.

    to dry out the body

  • anjar-kut
    5/11/2016 - 04:22 p.m.

    How cool! I know that in the Andes mountains there is the ruins of Macchu Piechu, which might have had some effect on mummifying, considering it was in the cold dry mountains. I wonder why they keep the heart though, I mean, I cant think of any reason they would use it for.

    • milaa-kut
      4/28/2017 - 12:49 p.m.

      I agree with what you are saying at the end. They take all the organs out but they leave the heart, it just does not make sense.Why would they leave the heart in the body.I think its about religion or something like that, because the Egyptians worshiped many gods so it could be a religion. I just still don't know why they leave the heart. Wouldn't it just dry up and turn to dust? What would they use the organs for? Were they using them for sacrifices or certain rituals? I guess we will never know.

  • jordanp-612-
    5/11/2016 - 04:48 p.m.

    Egyptians used salt because the salt preserves the body and keeps it from decaying.

  • virginiam-2-bar
    5/11/2016 - 05:19 p.m.

    Egyptians used salt to mummify bodies because according to the article, that was needed to dry them out, which preserves them. I found this information when it said, "Then they dry out your body with a kind of salt." (paragraph 4).
    I found this article interesting because I learned about Ancient Egypt a few years ago in Social Studies, and it relates to this article.

  • madisonn-kut
    5/11/2016 - 05:58 p.m.

    how cool I didn't know that they did that in Egypt. it must be really nasty to take out the brain also your internal organs. they just ley your heart sit and dry out. also most of your organs in jar I would never want to live in Egypt then. they would also get painted. I would only imagine opening one of those today ewe it would smell really bad.

  • madisonn-kut
    5/11/2016 - 05:59 p.m.

    also I wouldn't want to be the person to do all that stuff

  • colek-1-bar
    5/11/2016 - 07:08 p.m.

    Egyptians used salt while mummifying to dry out the body of the dead person before putting it in a sarcophagus. The body would then be dry enough to take out the organs, and, "Their technique worked pretty well." (paragraph 5). Since the body was dry and parched, it was easier to take out the insides of the dead person. Since salt was abundant in Egypt and was an affective way to make things dry, the Egyptians used the salt to dry out the body. Then, they could finish the process on the royal deceased person, put them in a sarcophagus, and stow them away in their tomb. That is why Egyptians used salt. I thought this article was interesting and found that Egyptians were not the first to mummify surprising.

  • yuaw-3-bar
    5/11/2016 - 07:09 p.m.

    Egyptians used salt to preserve and dry the organs of the dead body. "Then they dry out your body with a kind of salt." (paragraph 4) They needed the organs to be dry because the Egyptians would put them in jars and take everything except for the heart before put the body is put it a coffin.
    I thought this article was interesting because I remember we discussed about Egyptian culture in Social Studies in 6th grade and we learned about them putting the organs away in jars. I thought this article showed that in different times or cultures, people could have mummified bodies.

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