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Evidence of diet, deification, and death within ancient Egyptian mummified animals / Richard Johnston, Richard Thomas, Rhys Jones, Carolyn Graves-Brown, Wendy Goodridge, Laura North

Scientific Reports, Volume: 10, Issue: 1

Swansea University Authors: Richard Johnston, Carolyn Graves-Brown, Wendy Goodridge, Laura North

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Abstract

The clues to life and death of mummified animals can remain hidden beneath their wrappings. Developments in non-invasive imaging have enabled detailed study of their internal structures. Laboratory-based X-ray microcomputed tomography (microCT) and focussed imaging protocols permit smaller mummified...

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Published in: Scientific Reports
ISSN: 2045-2322
Published: Springer Science and Business Media LLC 2020
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa54760
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Abstract: The clues to life and death of mummified animals can remain hidden beneath their wrappings. Developments in non-invasive imaging have enabled detailed study of their internal structures. Laboratory-based X-ray microcomputed tomography (microCT) and focussed imaging protocols permit smaller mummified remains, such as animals, to be studied at higher resolution. In this study, we use microCT to image three different animal mummies. Revealing the internal structures provides insights into their biography, the conditions in which they were kept, complex mummification practices, possible causes of death, and subsequent handling damage. Thousands of years after the production of these mummified animals, the X-ray microCT technique facilitates new investigations, revealing ‘harder’ skeletal structures, mummification materials, and even desiccated soft tissues. Potential evidence for an ‘opening of the mouth’ procedure was found in a snake, along with indicators of the poor conditions in which the snake was kept when alive, leading to dehydration. Examination of a cat mummy revealed it was less than five months old and had its neck purposefully broken. It was also possible to identify a bird mummy to species level from the X-ray data. Improved understanding of animal mummification through scientific imaging can thus inform conservation and understanding of past human-animal relationships.
Keywords: Egyptian mummified animals
Funders: UKRI, EP/M028267/1
Issue: 1