How to Make a Mummy

And why that mummy might explode

By Zach Dundas June 3, 2013 Published in the June 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Nomad

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.”



Image: Nomad

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.” 


Image: Nomad

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. 

Two centuries ago, Egyptian mummies were frequently cut into pieces and sold, often to tourists. These Egyptian mummy heads are part of the Mummies of the World exhibition, the largest traveling exhibition of mummies and artifacts ever assembled.
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