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CT Scans Reveal Contents of Small Ancient Egyptian Mummies

Monday, July 27, 2020

Haifa Mummies ScanHAIFA, ISRAEL—According to a Live Science report, CT scans have revealed that two small ancient Egyptian sarcophagi held in the collections of the National Maritime Museum in Haifa for more than 50 years did not hold mummified human hearts, as had been noted in museum records. Instead, one of the mummies, which measures 18 inches long and was shaped to resemble Osiris, the god of the afterlife, the dead, life, and vegetation, holds tightly packed grain and mud. “During Osiris festivals that were held, [the ancient Egyptians] would produce these,” said Ron Hillel of Haifa Museums. “It would be a mixture of clay or sand with these grains, and then they would dip it in water and the grains would germinate.” The ritual tied Osiris to death, life and fertility, Hillel explained. The second mummy, which measures about 10 inches long, is bird-shaped and represents the god Horus, the falcon-headed son of Osiris and Isis associated with the sky and pharaohs. Inside, the CT scan revealed the partial remains of a bird, perhaps a falcon. The bird appears to be missing a leg and some of its abdominal organs, and it has a broken neck—an injury thought to have occurred after death. Hillel and the team of researchers studying the mummies now plan to radiocarbon date them. To read about animal mummies, go to "Messengers to the Gods."

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