Missing mummies?

Scientists from the University of Manchester, UK have discovered that a third of their animal mummies don’t actually contain an animal– so what’s there instead?

In collaboration with the Manchester Museum, scientists from the University of Manchester have been carrying out a scanning project to investigate the innards of their vast collection of animal and human mummies.

In a strange twist, alongside the bundles which contained complete or partial remains, were a large number of mummies with no animal matter inside at all.

Dr Lidija McKnight, an Egyptologist on the project commented on the find: “We always knew that not all animal mummies contained what we expected them to contain, but we found around a third don’t contain any animal material at all – so no skeletal remains.”

“Basically, organic material such as mud, sticks and reeds, that would have been lying around the embalmers workshops, and also things like eggshells and feathers, which were associated with the animals, but aren’t the animals themselves” were found inside these “false” mummies.

Animal mummies were often used as offerings (more often than just mummified your beloved kitten), so the researchers theorise that mummy makers, struggling to keep up with demand, started to make fake mummies to fill out orders.The mummies were filled with material that was associated with the animals, so they probably aren’t forgeries.

“We don’t think it’s forgery or fakery. It’s just that they were using everything they could find. And often the most beautifully wrapped mummies don’t contain the animal remains themselves.”

The project has been followed by BBC’s Horizon, and is airing tonight (11th May) on BBC2.

H/T: BBC news

Image credit: Richard Kelley under a Creative Commons license. 


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