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Are mummies real?

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Mummies are definitely real! But they're not the monsters that you meet in scary books and movies. A mummy is a dead body that has been chemically preserved.

Some ancient cultures believed that preserving a person's body after they died would help to preserve their soul or spirit. The process of mummification (otherwise known as "how to make a mummy") was done so that someone could, in a way, live on forever.

When you think of mummies, you probably think of the ancient Egyptians. Read about their mummy-making process in Britannica Library. But they were not the only civilization that mummified the dead. Historically, peoples in Australia, some Pacific Islands, Chile and Peru also practised mummification. In fact, the South American Chinchorro mummies are the oldest human ones discovered. That's right! Mummification wasn't just for people. The ancient Egyptians mummified cats, falcons, even crocodiles!

Not all mummification was done by humans. The elements can also do the job. For example, mummies are created when icy waters or marshy bogs preserve bodies. Naturally mummified corpses have been found in places like China, Italy and England. They help anthropologists (scientists who study human beings and their cultures) learn about the past. Using new technology to examine these ancient bodies, we can discover what life was like in ages past.

You can see real mummies at museums around the world, including the Royal Ontario Museum, one of our Museum + Arts Pass partners. Browse the MAP Reading List or get wrapped up in one of these books!

More spooky wonders:
Are ghosts real?
How did Halloween start?

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