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Your Guide to Egyptian Mummies and the Next World

Use this guide to draw, write and learn about the objects in this gallery.

Draw the pattern of the wrapping.


Meet Ka-i-ne er, our Mummy

The spirit of a dead person could live in the Next World only if the body was preserved by mummification. We don’t know exactly who Ka-i-nefer was, but his skeleton tells us he was a man about 45 to 55 years old and approximately 5’5” tall.



Can you see Ka-i-nefer’s arms feet head?

His straight arms are pressed against his sides. Arms were usually crossed over the chest just for pharaohs, queens, princes, princesses and horror-movie characters.

Using x-rays of his skull, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reconstructed his face.


Why is the mummy short and thin?

Generally, people were shorter in ancient times. Also, during mummification, Egyptians removed the very moist intestines, stomach, liver and lungs and dried out the remaining parts to prevent rotting and decay. Because the body is 75% liquid, it shrank as it dried out. For further protection, the mummy was waterproofed by covering it with the sap of trees and wrapping it in strips of old clothes and bedsheets.




The Inner Coffin This wooden coffin is almost 2,500 years old. Weighing 300 pounds, it held and protected the mummy of Meret-it-es, a noblewoman. The writings and pictures on the coffin could magically restore Meret-it-es’ spirit to life.

Can you find traces of Meret-it-es’ mummy in the coffin?


Inside the back of the coffin is black, mummy goop, the tree sap originally covering her body.



Can you find two big beetles on the front of this coffin? These are dung beetles—or poobeetles. Lacking garbage trucks, Egyptians dumped stinky piles of dung from donkeys, dogs, horses and more outside their town walls. When beetles appeared crawling on the piles, the Egyptians concluded the beetles were born out of the dung. By painting dung beetles here, the Egyptians hoped the spirit of Meret-it-es would be magically reborn.

Can you find the god ? having the head of a bird with a long beak? God of wisdom and writing, Thoth is shown with this bird’s head because its long pointed beak looks like his pen. Thoth appears seated on the front of the coffin, writing that the spirit of Meret-it-es may enter the Next World.

Keep going! 5

On the front of the coffin are blue columns of hieroglyphs, the written words of the Egyptians. These are prayers for the rebirth of Meret-it-es.


Find the hieroglyphs of an eye with a throne and a seated figure.

These hieroglyphs on the right column form the name Osiris, the powerful god of the dead; the prayers are addressed to him.

STOP 3 Ushebtis These ushebtis (oo-sheb-tees) belonged to Meret-it-es. Magically, they came alive in the Next World, performing any hard, physical work demanded of her. Taking no chances, she had at least 305. Making them partly by hand, artists forgot the beard on two.


Can you find the two beardless ushebtis? Hint: look in the display case on the lower row.

What chore would you ask your ushebti to do today? The dishes, laundry....


Draw your own ushebtis



The Outer Coffin The standing coffin of Meret-it-es originally lay on its back safely in this coffin. Part of its lid is missing.

What is the coffin made of? Hint: look inside.

Wood. Because big trees were rare in Egypt, large planks were not available; many small ones were used here instead.

Count the black dogs on the coffin: These dogs represent Anubis, god of cemeteries and mummification. Anubis sits on top of what seems to be a tomb and protects it.

Learn More about the works in this guide by following these links: Stop 2: Stop 4: Stop 5:

Stop 3: Stop 5:


Count the figures on the coffin with one or two snake heads:


These are some of the 42 judges. In order to enter the Next World, the spirit of Meret-it-es had to declare to them that she was innocent of crimes like lying, stealing and even being grumpy. They have the heads of snakes (and also ferocious apes and lions) because the judges were dangerous and could keep the spirit out of the Next World.

e d. a crocodile hea h it w e g d ju e n o

l se Stop 4 Specia


arch: Find th

STOP 5 The Gold Cartonnage This gold covered and protected Meret-it-es’ mummy.


Can you find the scorpion?

Like a crown, it appears on top of one of the four kneeling goddesses, indicating her great power. The four goddesses protected Meret-it-es’ mummy.


Can you find the goddess with a disk, or circle, on her head? This is Nut, goddess of the sky; the disk represents the sun. Nut stretches out her broad wings and arms to protect Meret-it-es for all eternity.

Write Your Name in Hieroglyphs The Egyptians believed that by writing and preserving their names, they could live forever in the Next World. Now you too can write your name in hieroglyphs. Although there were more than 6,000 different hieroglyphs, we have listed some key ones and their sounds. Using them, write your name vertically inside the large oval, called a cartouche (car-TOOSH). The Egyptians used the cartouche only for the names of kings and queens. 9

Hieroglyphs P H ONE T IC


What’s your name?

“I” as in Phil

“C” as in Caleb

“C” as in Cindy

“E” as in Beth

F sound

“E” as in Dee Dee

S sound

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Egypt Family Gallery Guide  
Egypt Family Gallery Guide  

Guide, geared to families, for the Egyptian galleries at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.