• Making a mummy

    You are looking at the face of a priest from Ancient Egypt.

    His name was Hornedjitef, and he was a priest at the Temple of Amun at Karnak. He died about 220 BC, and was buried at Thebes. This is his mummy mask.

    As part of elaborate funeral arrangements, the mask was placed over a dead person's head, like a helmet.

    The Ancient Egyptians made mummies of dead bodies, to preserve them and make sure that a person's spirit or 'ba' moved on into the afterlife.

    Making a mummy took seventy days. During the process, some body parts including the brain were removed and placed in jars; the body was treated with salt and chemicals. The treatment dried the body to stop decay.

    The finished mummy was wrapped in linen cloth, and the painted mask put over the face, before the last funeral rites. It was then put into a coffin, and buried in a tomb.

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  • Older than he looks

    The face on Hornedjitef's mask is that of a young man with golden skin.

    This is not a picture of Hornedjitef in life. It's him as a god in the afterlife. When the priest died, he was an old man.

    Scientists examined this mummy with a CT scanner, and found signs of arthritis and other 'ageing' problems in the bones - Hornedjitef probably walked stiffly, perhaps with a stick.

    Around the brow of the mask is a magic spell, put there to make sure that the head would not be separated from the body after death. Egyptians feared that if this did happen, a dead person might not make the journey to the afterlife and join the gods.

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  • Hornedjitef

    Hornedjitef was an important person.

    In Ancient Egypt, priests were the only people, apart from the king, allowed into temples to carry out sacred rituals (religious ceremonies) every day. One of the priests' tasks was to wash and 'feed' temple statues of Egypt's gods.

    Because of his high rank, Hornedjitef was almost certainly given a splendid funeral, and his mummy was made with special care.

    It wasn't only people who were mummified. The Egyptians also made mummies of ibises (birds), cats, crocodiles and gazelles.

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Fun Facts
  • The most famous tomb discovery in Egypt was made in 1922. Howard Carter, a British archaeologist, entered the tomb of King Tutankhamun.

  • From looking at the teeth of mummies, scientists know Egyptians ate gritty flour - the grit in bread wore down their teeth.

  • It took 150 metres of linen cloth to wrap up a mummy.

  • The building where mummies were made was known as the 'Beautiful House'.

  • The Ancient Egyptians weren't the only people who made mummies. Mummies have been found in South America and the Canary Islands.

  • Many mummies were stolen from Egypt. They were crushed to powder and sold as fake medicines!

  • Egyptians made mummies of cats, baboons, crocodiles and other animals.

  • Mummies in Peru (South America) have false heads, stuffed with cotton.

  • The Ancient Egyptians were good doctors. Surgeons sometimes drilled holes in sick people's heads (to relieve pressure on the brain).

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