Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mummufied kitten bred for purpose

Fox News (Jennifer Welsh) 

Two thousand years ago, an Egyptian purchased a mummified kitten from a breeder, to offer as a sacrifice to the goddess Bastet, new research suggests.

Between about 332 B.C. and 30 B.C. in Egypt, cats were bred near temples specifically to be mummified and used as offerings.

The cat mummy came from the Egyptian Collection of the National Archeological Museum in Parma, Italy. It was bought by the museum in the 18th century from a collector. Because of how the museum acquired it, there's no documentation about where the mummy came from.

The cat mummies from this period are common, especially kittens. "Kittens, aged 2 to 4 months old, were sacrificed in huge numbers, because they were more suitable for mummification," the authors write in the paper, published in the April 2012 issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

The researchers did a radiograph — similar to an X-ray — of the mummy, to see under the wrappings, finding the small cat was actually a kitten, only about 5 or 6 months old.

"The fact that the cat was young suggests that it was one of those bred specifically for mummification," study researcher Giacomo Gnudi, a professor at the University of Parma, said in a statement.

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