Chicken Mummies

Grades: Intermediate
Summary: Here is a great lesson for students learning about Ancient Egypt.

"The original idea for this activity came from the book Theme Series- Egypt by Creative Teaching Press. I modified the process. So far, our mummies have survived and so have we."

· Students will understand the mummification process.
· Students will learn about the ancient Egyptian culture.
· Students will use the scientific method.
· Students will write descriptive papers about observations.

· Ancient Egypt (Good Apple)
· Ancient Egypt (Scholastic)
· Pyramid by David Macaulay (Houghton Mifflin Co.)
· 1 whole chicken (do not use frozen chicken)
· 8 gallon self-sealing bags (depends on how long drying out process takes)
· 2 two-pound bags of salt (to simulate the natron used by the Egyptians)
· 1 bottle of olive oil
· at least 2 yards of linen, cut into 1" strips (heavy cotton will also work)
· 1 box each - cinnamon, cloves, other spices
· resin or lacquer (optional)
· several pairs of rubber gloves
· 2 rolls of paper towels
· 1 bottle of rubbing alcohol*
· 1 bottle of lemon juice*
· 1 bottle of apple cider vinegar*
· 1 bottle of white vinegar*
*We have added soft drinks, Clorox, and Formula 409 all-purpose cleaner

Students are shown transparencies of the mummification process. We discuss these and I help them understand the process. Other sources (listed in material section) will give students a better understanding. They read in cooperative groups and complete questions about ancient Egypt and the mummification process.

Directions for mummifying the chickens:
Take the neck, liver, and gizzard out.
Wash the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels.
Cut slits at different places on chicken. Put the chicken in a self-sealing bag.
Place salt in cavity and slits. Cover it with salt. Close bag tightly.
You may have to change the bag the first day.
Check each week to see if the chicken is drying out. Change the salt at least every 5 to 10 days. Bags may need to be changed every two days the first week. Continue changing salt and bag until the chicken has dried out.
The process may take longer than four weeks.
Once chicken has dried for 4 to 6 weeks, wet paper towels and wipe the salt off the chicken. Pat dry with towels.
Sprinkle spices over and in chicken. Rub into skin.
Rub olive oil into skin.
Wrap cloth strips around the chicken until the oil and spices do not soak through the strips.
Optional: Coat the mummy with resin or lacquer before wrapping.

REMEMBER: Always wear a pair of gloves!
Students may design a sarcophagus for the mummy. Messages written in hieroglyphics may appear on mummy. It can also be buried and later dug up as part of an archaeological dig.
The liver, gizzard, neck, and fat (cut from chicken) are placed in different glass containers of rubbing alcohol, lemon juice, and vinegar. The science classes are observing the decomposition of the left over parts. My teammate and I have also bought a package of chicken legs to add to different solutions. Be careful of mixing the solutions.

Note: We unwrapped one of the chickens from last year. You could see some red meat and the bones were still hard. It did not smell! The students were excited to see what had happened over a year's time and yet leery of getting too close!
Submitted by: Carla Detter
She has done this activity in the past with excellent results! If you have any questions about chicken mummies, please ask Carla.

Be sure to check out the "Apple Mummies" lesson.

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