Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Ancient Egypt Projects for Kids Mummification

The Apple Experiment

For our mummification experiment, the apples are waiting for the different substances we will add.
To begin our study of mummification, we did an experiment to learn about natron, the salts that the Ancient Egyptians used in mummification.

I have seen this done many times on various blogs. We took six plastic disposable cups and put an apple slice in each one. 
In one we added 1/4 cup Epsom Salt.

In one we added 1/4 cup Baking Soda.
In another, 1/4 cup table salt.

In two cups we added a combination of two substances; one we added a mixture of a 1/8 cup Epsom salt and 1/8 cup Baking Soda and in the other a combination of Table Salt and Baking Soda.
In the last cup, we left the apple alone, and labeled it "Control."

One week after we put our apple slices in various substances to see which one would dry them out the best, we look at the apple slices.
 First we looked at our control slice. It was dry, but had black mold on it.
Epsom Salt
The Epsom Salt slice was still quite wet and the Epsom Salt around the slice was very wet...

Table Salt
 ...as was the Table Salt slice.
Baking Soda
 The slice with the Baking Soda was also wet and it had black mold. The Baking Soda was wet, too.
Table Salt and Baking Soda
 The slice with the combination of Table Salt and Baking Soda was in a much more preserved, dry state...
Epsom Salt and Baking Soda
but the winner voted for the best preserved was the Epsom Salt and Baking Soda combination.

We decided that since we were comparing the preservation of these apple slices so as to learn something about how the Ancient Egyptians preserved their mummies with Natron, we would change our cups for fresh substances each week, taking away the substances that had leeched away the moisture and was holding it for a fresh batch. 
And here are our apple slices two weeks later. The salt one seemed like the dried apple slices you get at the store...soft and pliable.

The baking soda was hard and dry, but had evidence of mold which had later dried.

 The Epsom Salt apple slice had even more mold.
We also noticed that the Epsom Salt's crystals had gotten larger.
 The Epsom salt and Baking soda apple slice was more dried out and better preserved than either substance alone, but was a bit brittle.

 We felt the winner was the salt and baking soda, which left the apple slice well preserved, but not brittle.

Fruity Pharaohs: Or How To Make a Mummy

The first thing you need to do is make up some natron, the salts used to preserve pharaohs. Mix up about a pound of salt and about a pound of baking soda together in a bowl. Set aside; we will be using it later.

The pharaohs are made out of an orange and a potato cut in half.
Skewer them on a stiff piece of wire or a wooden skewer.
Don't forget to carve a face into the potato. Give your pharaoh personality! You could also give him a name. Quentin gave his skewer arms and legs.
Next, make an incision of about 2-3 inches along the left side of the pharaoh's abdomen (the orange) and pull out the internal organs (the orange pulp).
Put down a dry paper towel down and place on it about a tablespoon of the natron you made earlier. Place the internal organs (orange pulp) on the natron and then sprinkle about a teaspoon more on top. Wrap up the corners of the paper towel and secure with a piece of tape.
Next, take a cotton ball that has been soaked in some alcohol (either rubbing alcohol or wine is fine) and rub it all in the cavity. This kills bacteria that might make the pharaoh rot.
Next, sprinkle a mixture of aromatic spices inside the cavity. We used a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Apple or Pumpkin pie spice works well for this.
Place your finished pharaohs in a plastic box with about a quarter inch of the natron spread on the bottom. Lightly cover the pharaohs with some more natron.
Two weeks later, the orange is fully dry and preserved. The potato is still drying out, but is almost completely dry.
Once fully dry, you can wrap your mummy in bandages with wood glue. Here is our wrapped mummy on the tan tissue paper.

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