|Staff Reporter |||May 12, 2015 08:30 AM EDT|
(Photo : Manchester Museum/University of Manchester) An ancient Egyptian cat mummy, left, and a modern X-ray, right, revealing a skeleton inside.
Detailed and visually stunning Egyptian animal mummies dating as way back from 800 B.C. are found to be dummies, according to new discoveries.
Using high powered X-ray machines, British researchers from Manchester Museum and The University of Manchester have revealed secrets hidden for almost 3,000 years in the sands of the cradle of civilization. But they have also stirred debate over what those secrets mean for our understanding of ancient Egyptians and their religious beliefs.
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Almost 800 mummies were checked by the team and were believed that only a third of the mummies do contain complete animal remains.
The team scanned animal mummies including wading birds, falcons, cats, shrews and a five-foot long Nile crocodile. In one instance, a crocodile- shaped mummy was found to contain eight baby crocs carefully wrapped together. In another case, scans revealed that for thousands of years, an intricately crafted cat-shaped mummy, with tiny ears and a nose, in fact contained only a few pieces of cat bone.
“We have knowledge from over 800 animal mummies. At first we were surprised to see that almost all mummies did not have any animal remains within. Later we realized that it absolutely was truly quite common to stack these mummies up with sticks, mud, eggshells reeds, and feathers wrapped within line cloth,” said Dr. Lidija McKnight, an Egyptologist from the University of Manchester.
The research was shown as a feature on BBC Horizon program entitled 70 Million Animal Mummies: Egypt’s Dark Secret.
The program looked at the Egyptian practice of mummifying animals and revealed that up to 70 million creatures were wrapped and buried in underground catacombs.
Dr. McKnight stated that the findings can form a type of an 18-month moving exhibition starting from October in Manchester Museum.
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