Over time almost all Egyptians who could afford to became mummies when they died — a total of about 70 million mummies in 3,000 years. By the 4th century AD, many Egyptians had become Christians and no longer believed that mummification was necessary for life after death. Eventually, the Egyptians gave up the art and science of making mummies.
So where did all the mummies go? Sadly, most were plundered in ancient times by grave robbers and vandals looking for treasures wrapped up in the bandages. Countless mummies were also destroyed during the Middle Ages, when they were ground into powders to make supposedly magical potions. Later on, modern treasure hunters blundered into their tombs looking for artifacts and souvenirs. Even industry aided the destruction by using mummies’ bandages to make paper or burning their bodies for fuel.
The best preserved mummies are those of the pharoahs and their relatives. These mummies tended to be more carefully embalmed and protected from harm. The mummies that have survived allow us to look back into the past and know something of the ancient Egyptians and their time. Three of the most famous Egyptians mummies are Tutankhamen, Seti I and Rameses II (Ramses the Great).