How to Make a Mummy
And why that mummy might explode
You can make them yourself. “We mummified a sheep and a cat by leaving them out on the roof of a building. You have to make sure they’re covered with natron, a salt-soil mixture that occurs naturally in Egypt and acts as a desiccating agent.”
But they might detonate! “If you don’t prepare them correctly, they won’t dry out properly. Gases could build up inside the bodies and cause them to burst. We’ve found Egyptian mummies that
look like they exploded.”
Ancient Egypt was plagued by mummy scams. “For religious reasons, people mummified animals. But we find fakes—a specimen might look like a falcon, for example, but inside it’s just mud, with maybe one feather. It could have been a lucrative scheme for priests, who charged people to create mummies.”
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry debuts Mummies of the World—billed as “the largest collection of mummies ever assembled”—on June 14.