Questions for “See what these animal mummies are keeping under wraps”

photos of three mummified animals

Three-dimensional scans of animal mummies reveal their identities and other secrets. The mummies are likely at least 2,000 years old. They include a snake (left), bird (top right) and cat (bottom right).

Swansea University

To accompany “See what these animal mummies are keeping under wraps


Before Reading:

1. What are mummies and why did ancient people use this technique to preserve their dead?

2. Who mummified their dead? In these ancient cultures, was everyone mummified or just some people?

During Reading:

1.  What three animals were studied in the research described in this story? How were they studied without unwrapping the fabric around the mummies?

2.  Describe the high tech tool used in the study and what advantages it gave Richard Johnston’s team.

3.  How did the researchers use virtual reality in their work?

4.  What was the apparent cause of death for two of the mummified animals? How did the researchers come to their conclusions?

5.  How did the researchers assess the age of the cat that had died?

6.  What is natron? How and why did ancient Egyptians use it with some of their mummies?

After Reading:

1.  Imagine you were living in ancient Egypt. What would you choose to mummify — and why?

2.  How does mummification compare to the embalming and cremation popularly used to treat the bodies of loved ones today? Some cultures choose to burn their dead or to leave their bodies to recycle into nutrients for other living things. Discuss what arguments different societies might make for preferring one of these modes of respecting their dead over another.