The ancient Egyptians believed that a person's body should be kept from decaying after death. The body must be kept as it was so that the soul which had left it could come back to the tomb and find refuge in the body.
   To keep a dead body from decaying, the Egyptians used chemicals which dried it. They dried it very much as we now dry fish or beef. Then they wrapped it in layer after layer of linen. Several hundred yards of linen were needed. The layers of linen were held together with coatings of resin. A body that has been treated in this way is called a mummy.
   Mummifying a body took about 70 days. During that time woodworkers were busy making coffins, for the mummy of an important person had more than one. The coffins fitted one inside another. The innermost coffins were often beautifully painted, as the picture on the next page shows.
   Many museums now have Egyptian mummies. These mummies look very much as they must have looked centuries ago. The Egyptians' way of keeping a body from decaying was certainly a good one.
   Not all Egyptian mummies were mum­mies of human beings. There are mummies of almost every kind of animal known in Egypt. Among them are cat, gazelle, bull, and crocodile mummies.
   Not all mummies are Egyptian. In Peru in ancient times bodies were mummified, too. But to most people the word "mummy" means an Egyptian mummy.