Mummifying Barbie at St Albans YAC
For their first meeting of 2017, members of the St Albans YAC tried something a little bit different. They wanted to explore how ancient Egyptians treated their dead, so they decided to ... mummify Barbie!
Death in ancient Egypt was the first step in eternal life! The Egyptians believed that people had three parts which survived after death: their ka (life force), their ba (personality), and their akh (soul). The ancient Egyptians thought that physical body needed to be preserved in order to provide a vehicle for these parts of the person in the afterlife. Their answer was mummification!
Each of the members was given an old Barbie doll to work on. They began by removing the Barbie's 'brain' out of her nose using tweezers. Egyptian emblamers would have used a metal hook. The brain and other internal organs were removed during mummification because if they were left inside the body, they would have rotted it from the inside out. Unlike other organs, the brain was thrown away!
Members also removed their Barbie's lungs, liver, intestines and stomach through a cut in the stomach. These were put in special containers called canopic jars. Each organ was protected by a different ancient Egyptian god. Hapi, the baboon-headed god, protects the lungs; Qebehsenuef, who has a falcon’s head, looks after the intestines; Duametef, a jackal-headed god, protects the stomach; and Imsety, with a human face, looks after the liver.
Once the organs were removed, the members packed the empty bodies with rice, and used nice-smelling oils to annoint (or smear) the bodies. Then they were wrapped up and entombed... in a shoe box!
You could try mummifying your own Barbie or other doll... or you could even try mummifying an orange. And for that really authentic ancient Egyptian experience, why not make your own Canopic jars too?
The members of St Alban's YAC told YAC HQ, "We promise we just did it to Barbie!!!"
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