Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Mummified Raptor

     It is well known that the ancient Egyptians mummified animals as well as humans. Cats, ibises, snakes and even crocodiles were mummified (the author clearly remembers seeing a stack of crocodile mummies at the temple of Kom Ombo during his first visit to Egypt many years ago). The Serapheum at Saqqara contained the burials of sacred bulls that were interred there over several centuries. Often times these mummies were presented as offerings to the gods in the country's temples, at other times the animals were favorite pets (sometimes touchingly found buried with young children).

     The Houston museum's Egyptian collection includes a number of animal mummies, including this one from either the Late or the Ptolemaic Period. This particular mummy (on loan from the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University) is of a hawk or falcon and may have been offered to Sokar or Horus by a pious worshipper.

     No doubt the priests at the various Egyptian temples made hundreds (thousands?) of mummies to sell to worshipers so that temple visitors could make offerings to the temple's god(s). Eventually scam artists began selling "empty" mummies (mummies that had no animal in them, as described in an article here).

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