X-ray scans of more than 800 animal mummies from the Manchester Museum have revealed that about a third of the mummies are fake, filled with nothing but bundles of cloth.
Ancient Egyptians were well known for mummifying their dead in order to preserve their remains for the afterlife, with many of them burying their pets along with them. According to new research, it seems that mummifying animals was a huge industry, reports the Daily Mail.
According to researchers from the University of Manchester who scanned more than 800 mummified animals at the Manchester Museum, approximately one third of them were real, with skeletal remains found inside. Another third had only partial remains, and the rest of them were empty, according to the BBC.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Dr Lidija McKnight” author_title=”Egyptologist from the University of Manchester”]
We are very surprised. We always though animal mummies contained what we expected them to contain, but these findings reveal that a third don’t contain any animal material at all. (…) We found organic material such as mud, sticks and reeds, eggshells and feathers, basically material associated with the animals, but not animals themselves. (…) Often we found that most beautifully wrapped animal mummies were the empty ones.
Scientists estimate that up to 70 million animals were mummified by the Egyptians. Due to the large scale of mummification, the mummy makers often killed very young and small animals to keep up with the demand.
“We don’t think partial or empty mummies are a scam,” said Dr. McKnight. “The pilgrims may have known that they were not burying a complete creature. It’s just that mummy makers were using everything they could find.”
Unrelated to the story, researchers at Drents Museum have found a 1,000-year-old mummy inside an ancient Buddha statue. They believe that the remains are of Buddhist master Liu Quan, a member of the Chinese Meditation School.