Just in time for Halloween, archaeologists in Egypt found 30 coffins with mummies inside. The mummies were buried and included 23 adult males, five adult females, and two children. The archaeologists could tell the genders by the carvings on the coffins. If the coffin was carved to show open hands, the person inside was a female. If the coffin was carved with the hands balled into fists, the person inside was a male.
Becoming a Mummy
Unlike what is shown in some popular scary movies, people were not usually mummified as a punishment or for fear they might come back from the dead. In fact, only pharaohs, nobles, and the rich were able to afford it. The process took about 70 days to complete and involved many steps.
To make a mummy, priests and other experts would remove the internal organs and put them into special containers called canopic jars. These jars would later be buried with the mummies. Next, it was time to dry out the body. This was done by covering the body with natron, a type of salt. More natron was put inside the body until all of the moisture was removed, then the natron was taken out.
The final step was wrapping the mummies in hundreds of yards of linen. The strips were wound around the body, wrapping each finger and toe separately. Priests would attach amulets while praying, and write magical words on some of the linen strips as a way to protect the person from harm. The mummy was then wrapped in the final cloth, also known as a shroud, and secured with more linen.
Hopefully, by the time the mummy was complete, his or her tomb had also been built. The tomb held items the person would need in the afterlife. These could include things such as furniture, religious paintings, food, jewelry, and clothes.