Friday, April 1, 2016

Egyptian Cat Mummy

By Einsamer Schütze - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
The Gayer-Anderson cat, believed to be a representation of Bastet
When Herodotus visited Egypt around 450 BCE, he described the temple of Bast, centered in the city of Bubastis in ancient Egypt, where the New Kingdom Cult of Bastet was responsible for mummifying hundreds of thousands of cats. Many of these mummies survive today and look very similar to the mummy seen here, now in the collection of the Lyric Cranium.

The mummy, prior to the re-introduction of the jewelry.

The mummy with other items in the Egyptology collection. See video below.
The Lyric Cranium mummy (40.2 cm x 10.2 cm x 8.3-10.0 cm) is wrapped in interwoven layers of fine linen or cotton strips and is topped with a clay sculpted cat's head with features painted on its fabric covering. This head contains the cat's skull and the mummy itself contains a mostly-complete cat skeleton. This can be seen in the X-ray of the mummy (see front and side views below).

The cat mummy was originally wearing jewelry including necklaces of pearl, shell, and clay beads, and two gold earrings (restrung and added to the mummy after the X-rays were done). The X-rays also show some oddly in-congruent items under the wraps, as of yet unexplained.

This mummy has been catalogued at the Lyric Cranium as having been found by Asaph Saif al-Haq in 1933 and eventually became part of G. Hornan's personal collection currently on display.

X-ray: courtesy of Dr. M.T. (post-production: D. Morrish)

Head detail. Paint on coarse fabric over clay. (jewelry removed)

Below is a recent video of the mummy in situ at the Lyric Cranium. The original jewelry is in place in this view.