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The Mummified Zoo

Discussion in 'Zoo Cafe' started by wensleydale, 9 Oct 2014.

  1. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    I hope this won't make anyone lose their appetite.

    Given that Art Museums are one of my other loves and the fact that I have a degree in art it ought to come as no surprise that I eventually found a way to combine the two.

    I was at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston last week and I made the horrible mistake of walking into Gallery 109, AKA "The Mummies." They had several cases of animal mummies, and their storage areas hold at least several more if I recall correctly (check their website). I noticed that they had several cats (including a few kittens, complete with little ears sewn into their wrappings) and an Ibis, and several crocodiles of various sizes before I began retching uncontrollably, caught a glimpse of one of the human mummies and that giant sarcophagus lid that looks like its eyes are following you around the room, and fled. No, I wasn't scared, I just think the dead belong in the ground. All the guards were staring at me.

    Then I had the displeasure of coming upon a severed head in one of the other galleries. I swear to God, Governor not so big now that he is dead must have everything there that was buried with him but his body from the neck down.

    But I digress?

    Has anyone ever seen any animal mummies themselves? Any kind, Egyptian or no. Tell me, and please no posting pictures. Or do you not appreciate art? Also, what species of Ibis do you all reckon it was?
     
  2. elefante

    elefante Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a strange exhibit but also interesting. I'm assuming these were all ancient Egyptian mummies? I would guess the ibis was a sacred ibis.
     
  3. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    Yes indeed, these were all Ancient Egyptian mummies. In fact the M.F.A. has one of the worlds finest collections of all sorts of Ancient Egyptian artifacts, due to a series of expeditions conducted with Harvard University. There are two entire galleries devoted to mummies and the things found with them, plus more of the same in storage, as well as many other galleries of all things Egyptian, including Mekaure and His Queen, the finest piece of Egyptian sculpture anywhere if I should say so myself (I always visit it when I am at the M.F.A., as it is safely away from the dead). The animals are in a series of cases along one wall of the gallery they are in.

    This type mummy display is actually normal fare in a lot of art museums, I think it is crude frankly.
     
  4. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    It's most likely a sacred ibis, which was associated with Thoth, god of wisdom (among other things) - hence 'sacred'. I believe a few mummified northern bald ibis have been found too.
    The Egyptian museum in Cairo opened a new gallery a few years ago dedicated to animal mummies. It's one of the few rooms you pay extra to enter, but it has proven very popular. I've travelled throughout Egypt, I've visited several European museums, and I've worked at the British Museum in London, so I've seen quite a lot of animal mummies :)
     
  5. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    It turns out glossy ibis have also been mummified in the past - a bone is mentioned in the absolutely brilliant book 'Birds and People' by Mark Cocker.
     
  6. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    What were you doing at the British Museum? Were you sweeping the floor and emptying wastebaskets or was it a more prestigious job?:) Just curious.

    One of my acquaintances tells me there is a whole building full of mummies connected to the British Museum somehow, the name supposedly starts with medical, to the point where you are saying "oh, another mummy" each time you see one. Of course this was at least 20 years ago (I talk to a lot of senior citizens.)

    Supposedly the Nile Crocodile and the ones that have been found mummified are a different species, the desert crocodile. Has anyone seen one alive? Bonus points if you have seen one dead as well.
     
  7. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Just a brief placement for a couple of weeks several years ago. I was based in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan and helped (albeit briefly) with a variety of different projects.

    I can't think of what your mummy building might be, but there are a number of local museums displaying mummies - so perhaps it's one of those?

    The desert crocodile is typically found further West in Africa, on the other side of the Sahara desert. Nile crocodiles in Egypt are the same type as those found in the rest of the Nile, with the Egyptian Nile being (/having been) the centre of an extension of their native range.
     
  8. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    All I know is that the museum is in the middle of either London or Oxford and is full of the dead to the point that you are bored with them, this is literally all I know.