Saturday, July 16, 2011

Animal mummies under the scanner at Brooklyn Museum

The Media Line (David Rosenberg)

Once ignored by all but children, scholars start taking them seriously

A baboon sits in a lotus position swathed in yellow bandages. A cat, his body crisscrossed by elaborated folded strips of linen, looks up as if expecting a morsel from its owners. A hunting dog is preserved so carefully that individual strands of fur are identifiable as well are a pair of sleepy, half closed eyes. He stands erect on his four feet.

These animal mummies – all of them housed at Cairo’s Egyptian Museum – seem more alive and evoke more warmth than their human counterparts, usually fond lying rigid topped by an expressionless face, the stuff of monster movies and nightmares. That has made the animal mummies and the sarcophagi that house many of them popular with museum-visiting school groups. Now Egypt’s animal mummies are getting serious attention from Egyptologists.

Last month, the Brooklyn Museum took a big part of its collections to a nearby veterinary hospital to have them examined under a computerized tomography (CT) scanner to reveals their secrets. The museum plans to mount an exhibit of its collection sometime in 2013.

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