Top 5 Animal Mummies

Yes, you did read the title correctly! Today I am exploring and revealing the top 5 mummified animals I have found in my adventures so far.

We all know the Egyptians would mummify their dead, but not everyone realises that they would also mummify their animals too. There is lots of evidence to suggest that they would do this as part of a religious ritual, as we know that some animals were worshiped in Ancient Egypt. However compelling the evidence may be, I like Terry Deary’s interpretation; Pharaoh would have his pets mummyfied so they could keep him company in the afterlife.

(C) illustration Martin Brown, text Terry Deary

So, without any further ado, here is my Top 5: Mummified Animals:

5)  The Museum of London’s Mummified Cat:

This might seem an odd place to begin. This cat at the Museum of London  is not Egyptian. He’s a Londoner, born and raised and found in the walls of Tatty’s Tobacco Manufacturers and we think it dates from the late 1800s. Who knew that we were still mummifying things just over 100 years ago?

But what was he doing there? Some think that he was a good luck charm [insert “He’s clearly not that lucky!” joke]. Others think he was there to scare off vermin…

4) Anne of Cleve’s House’s Mummified Rat:

You might remember my recent visit to a property owned by Henry VIII’s 4th wife. In the gallery that explored the history of Lewes, there was an intriguing story of a mummified rat, which I will now share with you:

“Once upon a time there was a serving girl in Lewes. She was accused of stealing silverware from her employer. Her employer was a cruel man and would not listen to her protests of innocence and mercilessly threw the poor girl out on the streets. Years later, the house needed repairs. Builders stumbled upon a rats’ nest containing a mummified rat and the silver spoon.”

Above is the rat and spoon. Although they now serve as a memorial to the poor serving girl, they don’t  begin to make up for the way her employer treated her.

3) Haslemere Educational Museum’s Mummified Hawk

Perhaps the serving girl wouldn’t have been thrown out if a raptor like Haslemere’s Hawk (or maybe falcon) had carried off the rat but alas, there’s no changing the past. I find this mummy particularly fascinating because usually when museum’s have a mummified bird it tends to be an Ibis. The x-ray of the hawk really grabbed me.

X-ray of a mummified hawk

2) Brighton Museum & Art Galllery’s Many Mummified Crocodiles

The Brighton Museum & Art Gallery has a really good Egyptian Collection and it has lots of crocs!

The Egptian God Sobek had a crocodile head and he was an important water diety. These crocodiles could have been part of a religious ritual. I wonder if any museum has a mummified adult crocodile? If you know, feel free to get in touch with me, I’d love to see it!

And now, I reach the climax of the list. This, dear readers, is my Top Animal Mummy…

1) British Museum’s Mummified Bull

Bulls, like crocodiles and cats, were sacred animals in Ancient Egypt. In terms of burial, Bulls seems to have got the best treatment. The Apis Bulls were mummified and buried in massive stone sarcophagi with jewellery, protective amulets and even shabti to serve them in the afterlife! The embalming procedure was heavily ritualised and draws strong parallels with human mummification. Can you see why it made the #1 spot?

Apis Bull

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