We finally finished our Chicken Mummy.
It took FOREVER.
The Ancient Egyptians could crank out one of those puppies in about 40 days; ours took at least twice that long. It was by far the grossest thing we’ve ever done. I can’t even tell you how gross it was. And stinky. It reeked. The pictures don’t do it justice. Husband was the only one who dared to touch it.
A word to the wise….do NOT use the fresh, organic, plump, juicy, humongous whole chicken found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Apparently there are frozen ones that are much smaller and less succulent. In my defense, I am a vegetarian and had never bought a whole chicken before. Pretty sure I’ll never buy one again after this! 🙂
I decided to put the instructions in printable recipe format down at the bottom of this post, just in case you are ever
completely crazy interested in making one of your own. We used the instructions from The Story of the World, which is our main history book, but made a few of our own modifications. We also used the books Mummies Made in Egypt, Who Built the Pyramids?, Eyewitness Ancient Egypt, Magic Treehouse Fact Tracker: Mummies & Pyramids, and Tales of the Dead Ancient Egypt.
How to Make a Chicken Mummy
Summary: A hands-on learning experience!
- Baking Powder (4 cans)
- Baking Soda (4 boxes)
- Whole Chicken (as small as possible)
- Gallon Size Freezer Bags (lots!)
- Paper Towels
- Gloves (we didn’t use them–just washed our hands a lot!)
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Salt (at least 8 boxes)
- Oil (we didn’t use this)
- Various Spices (we used cinnamon, cloves, & pumpkin pie spice)
- White Glue + Water
- White Fabric, cut into strips
- Remove the neck and package of innards from the chicken. You can mummify them if you want but they smell way worse than the chicken. Ours only came with a liver, which we did mummify. We made a canopic jar to put it in.
- Wash the chicken well in hot running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Wipe down completely (inside too!) with alcohol and pat dry. Dry it as well as you possibly can.
- Mix 1/2 box of baking soda with 1/2 can of baking powder and 2 boxes of salt. This mixture is supposed to be more similar to the natron salt that the Ancient Egyptians used. Add spices to make it smell nice. (The girls had a lot of fun with this part!)
- Pour some of the mixture into the chicken cavity until it is full, then put the chicken into the freezer bag and pour the remaining salt around it. We didn’t figure this out until later, but adding some rice helps soak up extra moisture in the bag. Once the chicken is completely covered, seal the bag and then seal it again in a second bag.
- Check the chicken every day. If the salt is wet, remove the chicken from the bag, dust of the salt, and repeat step 3. We changed it the first time after about a week, then maybe 2 or 3 times again after that–far less than the book instructions said to do it. (Maybe it would have dried faster if we had changed it more.)
- Sometime while the chicken is drying, you can make your canopic jar(s), sarcophagus, & amulets.
- When the chicken is finally completely dried out, remove the chicken from the bag & dust of the salt as much as possible.
- If you want, you can rub scented oil into the chicken. We skipped this step.
- Stuff the inside of the chicken with fabric, then begin the wrapping process.
- Mix approximately 1 part white glue to 2 parts water, then dip your fabric strips into the glue. Wrap the wings and legs separately, then wrap the body. Place the amulets into the wrappings like the Egyptians did. Wrap in at least 2-3 layers, then let it dry completely.
Overall, it really was a good learning experience. We now know a LOT about mummies and pyramids and pharaohs and Egypt. But, after almost 5 months of all things Egyptian, I think we are ready to move on. Rest in Peace, little guy. Rest in Peace.
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What’s the grossest or most interesting project you’ve ever done with your kids?