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Mummification is a process used by the Ancient Egyptians to preserve dead bodies. Their climate was hot and dry, so the bodies would dry out and not decay.

Ancient Egyptians mummified people because they believed in a next world, so they needed to be prepared. They preserved the bodies of the dead because they believed that their ba (spirit) would leave the body at death and return to it in the afterlife. If their bodies weren't preserved, they didn't think they would live forever.

The Egyptians made mummies by first removing the brain and the other organs except the heart. They threw the brain away because they did not think it was important. They put the organs in canopic jars instead of throwing them away. They put the body in salt called natron to dry it out so it wouldn't rot. Later, they took the body and stuffed it with linen, spices, bitumen, straw, and sawdust so it would look lifelike. Then they wrapped it in linen cloth and tucked amulets (good luck charms) in the wrappings for good luck in the next world. They put a death mask on the mummy and put it in a coffin of stone or wood. Pharaohs had gold coffins because they were so rich. It took months to prepare a king's mummy because they wanted it to be perfect. Other people didn't get such a precise treatment and poor people sometimes didn't get mummified at all.

The mummies of some pharaohs were put in rooms in pyramids but the mummies of pharaohs in the New Kingdom were buried in the Valley of the Kings. Cats were very important to the Egyptians, so a lot of times they mummified them with the mummy of the dead person. Ushabti (little dolls made of wood or stone) were buried with the mummies so they could work for the dead person in the afterlife. Pottery, food, jewelry and other things that belonged to the person were buried with them. Copyright 2007 sponsor Canon LaserClass Series Printer Cartridge