World CivilizationsResearch

Mummies and Magic

Introduction: A phenomenon noticed by many World Civ teachers is student fascination with mummies and human sacrifice. Ask anyone who frequently teaches an ancient history survey course, and you'll find that if a paper is assigned without topic, aproximately 85% of the papers will come back on some aspect of mummification (or Aztec human sacrifice, but that is another research project). After reading several hundred of these papers year after year, done with various degrees of accuracy and flair, I had vowed never again to read any student creation which mentions natron, brain spoons, obsidian knives or any aspect of Egyptian funerary ritual. There is, however, such a wealth of beautiful information on line which deals with this intriguing subject, it simply must be included. So, with apologies to World Civ teachers everywhere, and a wink to bloodthirsty mummy enthusiasts -- enjoy!

Instructions: Write a short paper which describes some aspect of the mummification ritual. You could focus on physical process, religious ritual, or cosmological significance.

The purpose of this exercise is to help you learn to choose good historical evidence to support your work, so remember to ask the who, what, where, why, when questions of your sources. We've included many sources which we think will interest the amateur Egyptologist, many sites with beautiful images online, and some good primary sources as well. It's up to you to decide which sources are which.

For more information on primary sources, click.

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World Civilizations

RESEARCH: Ralph'sWorld Civilizations
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Last revised July 12, 1997
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