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A Fun Guide To Egyptian Mummification – Part 4: Tomb Time

I know what you’re thinking. Part 4? I mean! Part 4? Just when you thought the process of embalming the dead Pharaoh was over, I turn up with a pooping part 4!


Well, yes, the icky gross bits of clearing out the Pharaoh’s insides from Part 1 are done. And the mind-boggling bits of making sure you squish the organs into the correct Canopic Jars from Part 2 are done. And, luckily, the long and tedious bits of wrapping the whole body repeatedly with linen bandages from Part 3 are done.


But we can’t just leave the Pharaoh’s body on a table in the embalming room forever now can we? For starters it would just get in the way. And the tomb designers have been working so hard making a gorgeous looking tomb for the Pharaoh. They’ve decorated all the walls with pictures and everything! it would be a shame for the body to not end up in there really.


So here we go…


 

Ancient Egyptian mummification sarcophagus
What?! There's a whole other coffin inside this coffin?!

Step 10 – Coffins, coffins, coffins


Next, we need all the coffins, because one just isn’t enough for an Egyptian Pharaoh. I mean, Tutankhamun had three coffins AND a sarcophagus (that’s a big stone box).


It’s a bit of a Russian Doll situation. You know, start with the mummified body, covered in a linen death shroud painted to look like the Pharaoh, and pop it into the smallest coffin. Then put that small coffin in a medium sized coffin. Then put the medium sized coffin in a large coffin. The put the whole thing in an enormous stone Sarcophagus.


Each of the coffins will need to be covered in intricate carvings, paintings and designs. It would also be nice if the coffins were shaped to look like the Pharaoh themselves (that is, if the Pharaoh were a big empty person-box!). And if we’re going full Tutankhamun style, we want the smallest coffin to be entirely made out of gold.


Plus, we’ll need hieroglyphs. So many hieroglyphs. Just carve them everywhere! On the inside of the coffins. On the outside of the coffins. On a giant block of cheese. I mean it. Carve them everywhere.


But don’t worry, most of this coffin design work will be done by a team of elite craftspeople and artists. You just need to turn up at the end and help them to slide the Pharaoh’s coffin-in-a-coffin-in-a-coffin-in-a-sarcophagus into the tomb. Just take care to bend your knees when lifting those heavy coffins. There’s no such thing as Ancient Egyptian A&E if you throw your back out.


 

Ancient Egyptian tomb treasure chariot golden
Fancy chariot riding in the afterlife? I think our Pharaoh will love it!

Step 11 – Treasure in the Tomb


The Pharoah’s tomb will be pretty gigantic with lots of different rooms and chambers coming off it. Now that the Pharaoh is in the tomb, we’ll need to fill the tomb chambers with all of their things. It’s be a bit like moving house, but you know, for a dead person.


Everything that gets popped into the Pharaoh’s tomb can be used by the Pharaoh in the afterlife. It’s good to include fun stuff like chariots and board games so the Pharaoh doesn’t get bored. It’s also wise to include practical items, such as a pair of shoes or a comb. Oh and some clothes. Nobody wants to be caught naked in the afterlife! What a nightmare!


Ancient Egyptian Shabti dolls mummification tomb treasure afterlife
Some Ancient Egyptian Shabti Dolls. Because nobody wants to do work in the afterlife!

You’d also do well to consider what the Pharaoh is going to eat and drink in the afterlife. Chuck in a container of beer. Perhaps mummify some bread for them to eat. What a treat! The Pharaoh will be spoiled rotten (though not actually rotten because we embalmed them, thank goodness).


The Pharaoh will also need a bunch of Shabti Dolls to act as servants in the afterlife and do all of the Pharaoh’s boring jobs and chores for them. The more Shabti dolls in the tomb, the more leisure time our Pharaoh will be able to enjoy.


Ancient Egyptian cat statue mummification tomb
The Ancient Egyptians LOVED their kitty cats.

It also might be nice to send the Pharoah off to the afterlife with their most prized possessions. Perhaps they want to play in the Field of Reeds with their favourite furry friend by their side. Mummifying animals is a common practice here in ancient Egypt, so why not go through this whole process again with Pharaoh’s pet cat?


What do you mean this whole thing took long enough as it was with just mummifying the Pharaoh?


What do you mean the Pharaoh has enough stuff in there already and you’re sick of carting all of their stuff up and down the stairs to the tomb?


Okay, well don’t come crying to me when you get haunted by a grumpy pet-less Pharaoh ghost!


 

Opening of the Mouth Ceremony Ancient Egypt hieroglyphs mummification
The Opening of the Mouth Ceremony is performed on the Pharaoh's mummy (right of centre accompanied by Anubis) by two priests (left of centre with white sashes)

Step 12 – Funeral Rites


We made it! We’re here! Step 12. The final step before we can all go back to our lives (though this whole process has taken so long, I’m pretty sure I might die of old age soon); the funeral.


Because our Pharaoh was utterly loaded with wonga, they can afford some professional mourners at the funeral. That’s right, the Pharaoh paid for a bunch pretend grievers to stand around at the funeral weeping snottily and wailing noisily in their pretend sorrow.


I know. That’s all a bit awkward and weird. But try not to get too distracted because you have one final important task to do before we close up the Pharaoh’s tomb for good; The Opening of the Mouth Ceremony.


What?! We have to open the Pharaoh’s mouth?! I could’ve done with knowing that before I wrapped the Pharaoh in a bunch of linen and sealed them inside a poop-tonne of coffins!!


It’s okay. Don’t freak out. Strangely enough, the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony doesn’t involve us actually having to physically open the Pharaoh’s mouth.


Phew!


Ancient Egyptian tomb mummification
Once the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony is complete, the tomb can be sealed. A bit like this gorgeously decorated tomb!

Instead you’ll need to touch various parts of the Pharaoh’s body (such as the mouth, eyes, nose and ears) with some special tools to “open” that part of their body for use in the afterlife. This allows the Pharaoh to use their sense of sight, hearing, smell and taste during their relaxing existence in the Field of Reeds. Plus it means the Pharaoh can talk now too. In the afterlife, that is. Not the dead body. Nobody wants a talking dead body. That would be creepy.


 

That’s it and that’s all! You’re done! We’ll seal up the tomb and go and have a party. Well… You can have a party if you want to. This whole embalming thing has really taken it out of me. I’m going to have lie down…



If you want to learn more about Egyptian Mummification, you can watch a video guide about it here, or learn through creativity with these learning and craft activities.

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