WEBCAST: Mummy Science - Natural and Cultural Preserved Remains

Watch the archive of the webcast with Smithsonian anthropologist Dr. David Hunt. In the show, David explains how he uses modern technology to unwrap the secrets of mummies.

Smithsonian Science How: Mummy Science - Natural and Cultural Preserved Remains

Featuring Anthropologist David Hunt 

Meet Dr. David Hunt, Physical and Forensic Anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History. He is an expert on mummies and how they are made. Did you know that mummies are often made accidentally? Conditions such as extreme cold, dryness, or lack of oxygen may preserve humans or other animals for hundreds or thousands of years. Unwrap the secrets of mummies using non-invasive modern techniques such as X-ray and CT scanning. We will compare human-made mummies to naturally-made mummies as we take a journey into research on people of the past.

NOTE: This program includes examples of human remains and may not be suitable for some viewers.

Watch a recording of the May 7, 2015, webcast using the video player above. The show aligns with national science standards and naitonal social studies standards.

How do you participate in the webcast program?

1. WATCH the archive video above

2. Get TEACHING RESOURCES for the webcast

3. Design an ASSESSMENT for your students


The Mummy Science - Natural and Cultural Preserved Remains Webast Package supports students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations by offering a set of resources that integrate science concepts with science practice skills.

MS-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

  • MS-LS1-1 Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells
  • MS-LS1-5 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms

MS-PS1 Matter and its Interactions

  • MS-PS1-2 Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred


The Mummy Science package aligns with the Social Studies themes listed below by offering a set of resources that integrate anthropology concepts with anthropology skills. 

Time, Continuity, and Change

  • Studying the past makes it possible for us to understand the human story across time. 
  • Knowledge and understanding of the past enable us to analyze the causes and consequences of events and developments, and to place these in the context of the institutions, values and beliefs of the periods in which they took place. 
  • Knowing how to read, reconstruct and interpret the past allows us to answer questions such as: How do we learn about the past? How can we evaluate the usefulness and degree of reliability of different historical sources?

People, Places, and Environments

  • The study of people, places, and environments enables us to understand the relationship between human populations and the physical world.  
  • During their studies, learners develop an understanding of spatial perspectives, and examine changes in the relationship between peoples, places and environments.