Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Why Is This Egyptian Statue Spinning?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND—Strange things are afoot at England’s Manchester Museum, where curators have noticed a 10-inch-tall statue of an Egpytian man named Neb-Sanu that dates to 1080 B.C. slowly rotating counter-clockwise throughout the day. A time-elapse video indicates it would take more than seven days for the statue, which has been in the museum for 80 years after being recovered from a mummy’s tomb, to complete a full 360-degree revolution. In ancient Egypt, mourners to the tomb where the statue once sat, according to one of the museum’s curators, would have laid offerings by its feet—likely in the form of bread, beer, and beef, which is specifically requested by the hieroglyphics on its back. British physicists have suggested that differential friction between the base of the statue and the glass it sits on is the reason for the rotation, but the statue hasn’t moved for months since it was placed there.