Archaeology & History
Egyptian animal mummies turn out to be empty
By T.K. Randall
May 12, 2015 · 11 comments
Huge numbers of animal mummies were used as religious offerings. Image Credit: John Reinhard Weguelin
Up to a third of ancient Egyptian animal mummies have turned out to be nothing more than dummies.
Unlike human mummies which were created to preserve the bodies of the deceased, animal mummies in ancient Egypt were primarily used as religious offerings, a purpose which meant that there was often high demand for them among practitioners.
This demand was thought to have been so high in fact that many of the animal mummies produced ended up containing nothing at all but mud, sticks, feathers and other mundane substances.
The discovery was made thanks to a new scanning project by researchers at the University of Manchester who used X-Rays and CT scans to peer inside over 800 Egyptian animal mummies.
"There have been some surprises," said Egyptologist Dr Lidija McKnight. "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."
Only a third contained complete skeletons while another third contained only partial remains.
Despite this however the researchers believe that the contents of these mummies may have still been considered significant and that they were not intended to be deliberate forgeries.
"We think they were mummifying pieces of animals that were lying around, or materials associated with the animals during their lifetime - so nest material or eggshells," said Dr McKnight.
"They were special because they had been in close proximity with the animals - even though they weren't the animals themselves. "
Source: BBC News
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