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Archaeology & History

Egyptian animal mummies turn out to be empty

By T.K. Randall
May 12, 2015 · Comment icon 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 | Comments (11)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Infernal Gnu 9 years ago
Nice to know that fraud and deception go wayyyyy back. Human nature never changes.
Comment icon #3 Posted by KariW 9 years ago
Thanks Kenemet for posting that little bit of I was wondering if that was not the case!
Comment icon #4 Posted by DieChecker 9 years ago
Empty Promises.....
Comment icon #5 Posted by Zalmoxis 9 years ago
Mummies are odd.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Paranormal_Etcetera 9 years ago
They would have had to get rid of a lot of bones. Wonder what they did with them or maybe I don't
Comment icon #7 Posted by Athena1979 9 years ago
Ahhh...I swore I left my pony in there.
Comment icon #8 Posted by kmt_sesh 9 years ago
We have around thirty animal mummies on display in our Egyptian exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago, and quite a few in storage. These include cats and falcons, and a number of them are ancient fakes. My favorite cat mummy in our collection is over 2,000 years old and has a cute little face painted on the wrappings around its head, but X-rays and CT scans show that inside is only a cat head. The rest of the body is stuffing. I like showing the cat mummies to our visitors and talking about the CT scans. Ha, ha. Get it? We have a baby gazelle whose little antlers are poking out the wrappings ... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by DieChecker 9 years ago
I was talking about this with some friends, and my suggestion was that the mummies that had no bodies in them were the sacrifices that the Gods accepted. :w00t: :innocent:
Comment icon #10 Posted by kmt_sesh 9 years ago
I was talking about this with some friends, and my suggestion was that the mummies that had no bodies in them were the sacrifices that the Gods accepted. :w00t: :innocent: Oh, damn, that's good!
Comment icon #11 Posted by ShadowSot 9 years ago
Someone should look for Cut-me-Own-Throat Dibbbler. This sounds like something he'd do. I remember reading about this a bit ago, and feeling sort of pleased that we really haven't changed all that much since those days.

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