Egypt in South Africa

Mummified objects in iziko

The body was preserved through mummification and placed in a coffin/sarcophagus with objects needed for the Afterlife. Tomb models, canopic jars and ushabtis were some of these objects. Animals were often mummified as pets or as offerings and were linked to certain gods and goddesses for example the ibis was linked with Thot and the hawk with Horus.
The Department of Ancient Studies at the University of Stellenbosch arranged for the Egyptian mummified animals in Iziko’s collection to be scanned with the University’s Computed Tomography (CT) scanner.
The process revealed that of the five mummified animals one bird-shaped object was a complete fake, containing only plant material, mud, linen and perhaps stones. The second bird (falcon shape) revealed a leg and talons surrounded by reeds/feathers and linen.
Two objects were complete birds, the first possibly a kestrel falcon – the eyes, beak and some feathers clearly visible. The second bird of prey also shows some discolouration and the wing and tail feathers with no damage to the bones. The last animal was not identifiable as its head, front legs and vertebrae were missing, but is thought to be a small kitten.
A bird shaped mummy. (c) Iziko Photo Archive. Photograph by Carina Beyers.