Making a Chicken Mummy: Recipe 1
Many years ago with the Internet was young and Mummy Tombs was jst begun, Paula W. wrote me with a chicken mummy recipe that she concocted for her young homeschooled son, Alex. This was the very first recipe posted at Mummy Tombs. Paule wrote that the purpose of this activity is to expose students to a basic science/history activity to experience the art of mummymaking as the Egyptians did it. She went on: "What to do with the chicken mummy afterwards? I know teachers who keep them in a classroom closet and bring out their chicken mummy collections, year after year. Even if you only make a chicken mummy once, it's something you can show each year to teach your students the mummification process."
So here is Paula's recipe :
- a whole fryer (the smaller, the better)
- LOTS of table salt (Paula used a total of 12-15 boxes of Morton salt during the six weeks it took to make the mummy)
- a number of 2-gallon Ziploc bags.
1. Take the insides out of the cavity. (Paula mummified the heart and liver too, but they still smelled even after they were dried, so this is VERY optional.)
2. Wash the chicken. (Then wash your hands very well--chickens can carry bacteria!)
3. Fill cavity with salt.
4. Fill the bottom of the Ziploc bag with salt, then put in the chicken and fill the bag with salt. (Paula notes that the entire chicken must be covered.) You may want to double-bag the chicken to help reduce any odor. Try to squeeze out as much air as you can before you zip the bags closed. (Wash your hands again.)
5. Put the bag away for two weeks (or until the salt becomes moist). At this point, remove the chicken and change the salt inside the cavity and surrounding the chicken. You may wish to use a new bag as well. The chicken may smell at this point, so work fast. Wash your hands thoroughly when you are finished with the salt change.
6. Keep checking the salt and change whenever very moist. The entire process of changing the salt to dry out the chicken could take up to 6 weeks (or longer) to dry thoroughly. When it is dry, it should not smell.
7. Once the chicken is dry, remove it from the bag and carefully wash off the salt. Pat it dry.Then coat it inside with your favorite cooking oil or even baby oil. (Paula writes that baby oil is nice because of the scent, but you could probably use sun tan oil as well.) Then sprinkle it with sweet- smelling spices, such as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, whatever.
8. Cut up strips of white linen (or cloth--gauze is perfectly fine and already in strips), dip them in glue (the Egyptians used resin which is a sticky tree sap) and wrap them around mummy. (If you want to get fancy, you can find some photos of Egyptian animal mummies and try to do a more geometric wrapping as the Egyptians often did.)
9. Let your chicken mummy dry.
10. Finally, if you want, you can paint the mummy in the Egyptian fashion. Use hieroglyphics or Egyptian designs. You can even make a cartonnage mummy case for your chicken mummy's final resting place. Use hieroglyphics or Egyptian designs.
Thank you, Paula, for this recipe!