Making A Chicken Mummy
with Alex and Paula W.
This is 6-year-old Alex
W. holding his
very own chicken mummy. His mother Paula has graciously shared her chicken mummy recipe
with readers at the Mummy Tombs.
The purpose of this activity is to expose students to a basic science/history
activity to experience the art of mummymaking as the Egyptians did it. What to
do with the chicken mummy afterwards? I know teachers who keep them in a
classroom closet and bring out their chicken mummy collections, year after year.
Even if you only make a chicken mummy once, it's something you can show each year to teach
your students the mummification process.
So here is Paula's recipe accompanied by photos of her
homeschooled son Alex (and chicken):
You will need:
- a whole fryer (the
smaller, the better)
- LOTS of table salt (Paula used a total of 12-15 boxes of Morton
salt during the six weeks it took to make the mummy)
- a number of 2-gallon Ziploc
1. Take the insides out of the cavity. (Paula mummified
the heart and liver too, but they still smelled even after they were dried, so this is
2. Wash the chicken. (Then wash your hands very
well--chickens can carry bacteria!)
3. Fill cavity with salt.
4. Fill the bottom
of the Ziploc bag with salt, then put in the chicken and fill the bag with salt. (Paula
notes that the entire chicken must be covered.) You may want to double-bag the chicken to
help reduce any odor. Try to squeeze out as much air as you can before you zip the bags
closed. (Wash your hands again.)
5. Put the bag away for two weeks (or until the salt becomes moist). At this point, remove the
chicken and change the salt inside the cavity and surrounding the chicken. You may
wish to use a new bag as well. The chicken may smell at this point, so work fast.
Wash your hands thoroughly when you are finished with the salt change.
6. Keep checking the salt and change whenever very
moist. The entire process of changing the salt to dry out
the chicken could take up to 6 weeks (or longer) to dry thoroughly. When it is dry, it
should not smell.
7. Once the chicken is dry, remove it from the bag and
carefully wash off the salt. Pat it dry.
Then coat it inside with your favorite cooking oil or even
baby oil. (Paula writes that baby oil is nice because of the scent, but you could probably
use sun tan oil as well.) Then sprinkle it with sweet- smelling spices, such as
cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, whatever.
up strips of white linen (or cloth--gauze is perfectly fine and already in strips), dip
them in glue (the Egyptians used resin which is a sticky tree sap) and wrap them around
mummy. (If you want to get fancy, you can find some photos of Egyptian animal mummies and
try to do a more geometric wrapping as the Egyptians often did.)
9. Let your chicken mummy dry.
10. Finally, if you want, you can paint the mummy in
the Egyptian fashion. Use hieroglyphics or Egyptian designs. You can even make a
cartonnage mummy case for your chicken mummy's final resting place. Use hieroglyphics or Egyptian designs.
Thank you, Paula and Alex, for teaching a lot of us how
to make a Chicken Mummy! And a special thank you to little sister Audra for being such a good