Albany Senior High School/ Impact Project/Mummification of a Sausage called Ramses
Who was in this project?
Victoria Davidson, Steven Boon, Hugo Davidson
What were our aims
To complete an informative wikieducator page on mummification and our mummification experiment.
1x Kranski sausage 500g Table Salt Flour and Water (for paste) White vinegar
Step1) Cut slit in centre of sausage (representing the removal of organs)
step2) Rub with salt and vinegar
Step3) Place in container and cover with a least an inch of salt
Step4) Place container with in a cool dry place
Step5) Leave for one week
Step6) Record results.
Step7) Repeat steps 5 and 6
Step8) Make up paste of flour and water (like paper maiche)
Step9) Wrap sausage in strips of fabric or tissue paper until completely covered (like a mummy
We hypothesised that the mummified food items would last longer than the other’s that were left to decompose.
Ramses (the preserved sausage)
We chose Ramses as our subject of mummification. First Ramses was rubbed with salt and then placed in a plastic container and covered in roughly an inch of salt since week 10 of term 2. After three weeks we checked on Ramses and noticed that he had decreased in size and was much more solid. We hypothesize that this was due to the water being absorbed by the salt; the mass of the sausage was reduced, thus making it smaller. We also hypothesize that when the sausage gets smaller, its insides compress thus making it firmer to touch (the lack of elasticity in the skin due to the lack of water also makes the sausage feel firmer).
Caesar (the rotting sausage)
Caesar is the sausage that we left to be the control sausage. Caesar was left in a covered plastic container and left to rot since week 10 of term 2. Initially there were no changes for the first 3 weeks but during week 4, oil was found seeping out but nothing else changed. By day 34, a small patch of outer skin had disappeared and black spots (mould) began to emerge at both ends of the sausage. By day 37, white “furry” mould had emerged near the black mould. After 39 days Caesar has a pinkish-brown coating of secretion coating it as well as the spots of black, white, green and pink mould. The skin of the sausage has clearly started to decay. By day 42 (Wednesday 11 August), the sausage is stuck to the corner of the container and force must be applied in order to dislodge it, when it is dislodged, remnants of Caesar’s skin detach from him and stay on the walls of the container, leaving red detritus in its path. The subject is now emitting a pungent odour that can be smelt from outside the container and has shrunk a little in size. Possibly due to the small amount of liquid that has excreted from the sausage. The subject has also turned from a pinkish-brown hue, to a creamy brown colour.
What is it?
Mummification is the process of preserving a body, human or animal, by removing the organs of the body, preserving what is left and then wrapping it in cloth or material so the body won’t decompose.
Who used it?
As well as the Ancient Egyptians, many other cultures used the embalming process to dispose of their dead. Mummies have been found in several countries throughout the world, the most famous being the Egyptian mummies that were preserved by the Egyptians for their travels to the afterlife. Also a frozen mummy was found in the Otztal Alps, naturally preserved in ice, and others have been found in Russia, Italy, and South and North America. Some of the other most famously preserved bodies were found in the Han dynasty, China. A country’s climate can depend on how well a body preserves and also affect the amount of time it takes to decompose. The dry heat of Egypt’s desert and the cold climate in china and the Otztal Alps made it possible for all of these countries to embalm/preserve their dead.
Why was it done?
The Ancient Egyptians believed that when a person died they would need their body in order to move on into the afterlife. If a person's soul couldn’t find their body, then they would be doomed to wander the Earth for all eternity, never moving on to the afterlife. This was especially bad if the spirit who could not recognise his body was a Pharaoh, as Pharaohs were believed to be reincarnations of Ra, the sun god. If Ra was lost, the sun might never rise again.
As well as preserving the body for the afterlife, mummification meant that the bodies of the deceased didn’t decay out in the open or draw predators to villages. Decaying bodies could spread disease and cause people to become ill.
How was it done?
Ancient Egyptians tried several different methods of embalming before they perfected the process and it also varied for the three classes; wealthy, middle and poor.
First the body was washed and purified by the embalmers. Then the main organs (heart, lungs, liver, intestines and stomach) were dried out with natron salt and placed in Canopic jars. The heart was left in the body because it was important for the body to keep in the afterlife. The brain however, was removed from the body because it was seen as unnecessary. A long metal hook was inserted into the nose and the brain was smashed into small parts so it could drain out of the body easily. Once the correct organs had been extracted, the body was packed and covered with natron salt and buried for forty days to dry it out.
The body was then washed again and packed with linen, saw dust and leaves to make it appear more lifelike. Oils and spices were rubbed on the body to make it smell better and then it was ready to be wrapped. As the body was being wrapped, a priest would say prayers to ward off evil spirits, and amulets were also placed between the layers of bandages so as to protect and assist the soul in the next life. The bandages were held together with a sticky substance found in some plants called resin.
A layer of fabric is placed over the top of the mummy and painted with the god Osiris (God of life and death) and then another layer of fabric is tied around the body before it is lowered into the first coffin. This coffin is placed in another larger one and the family of the deceased commences with a funeral and ‘opening of the mouth’ ceremony. Finally the body and coffins are put in a sarcophagus with all the possessions of the deceased person; this is so they can keep these for the next life, and they begin their journey to the ‘Field of Reeds’.