Mummies: Bodies Talk - Preface

Mummies:  Bodies Talk (Illustration) Ancient Places and/or Civilizations Famous Historical Events Film Geography History Social Studies STEM Archeological Wonders

Photograph of the statue of Herodotus in Bodrum, Turkey (ancient Halicarnassus) taken on May 22, 2004 by monsieurdl.  Image online, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


...As much of the brain as possible is extracted
through the nostrils with an iron hook,
and what the hook cannot reach
is dissolved with drugs.

Herodotus, Greek Historian 
On making Egyptian mummies 
450 B.C.

When Herodotus of Halicarnassus (his town is called Bodrum today) visited Egypt, around 450 B.C., priests in that country told him how they made mummies. His rendition of the process, the earliest-known written description of mummification, continues:

Next, the flank is slit open with sharp Ethiopian stone [probably a flake of obsidian] and the entire contents of the abdomen are removed. The cavity is then thoroughly cleansed and washed out, first with palm wine and again with a solution of pounded spices. Then it is filled with pure crushed myrrh, cassia, and all other aromatic substances, except frankincense. The opening is sewn up, and then the body is placed in natron, covered entirely for 70 days, never longer.

What, exactly, is a mummy? It is a preserved dead body which has retained some of its soft tissue.  It may still have skin, for example, or muscle tissue or organs, which can be further studied to learn about who the person once was.

Mummies have fascinated us for centuries. They can develop, unaided by humans, when a body is buried (or left) in extremely cold or very hot, arid conditions. People of ancient cultures, most notably Egyptian, employed an elaborate process to make them. (Scholars estimate that 70 million mummies were made in Egypt - follow the link to virtually create one yourself - over a 3,000-year period.)

In this story, we will take a virtual trip to meet some of the world’s most famous mummies.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Sep 01, 2006

Updated Last Revision: May 05, 2019

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"Mummies: Bodies Talk" AwesomeStories.com. Sep 01, 2006. Jan 19, 2020.
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