The earliest ancient Egyptians buried their dead in small pits in the desert. The heat and dryness of the sand dehydrated the bodies quickly, creating lifelike and natural 'mummies'.
Later, the ancient Egyptians began burying their dead in coffins to protect them from wild animals in the desert. However, they realised that bodies placed in coffins decayed when they were not exposed to the hot, dry sand of the desert.
Over many centuries, the ancient Egyptians developed a method of preserving bodies so they would remain lifelike. The process included embalming the bodies and wrapping them in strips of linen. Today we call this process mummification.
Why did the ancient Egyptians mummify their dead?