Massive mummy fraud discovered after 2,000 years
Modern medical science has exposed the villainy of the crocodile mummy sellers of Hawara, more than 2,000 years after they defied the edict of a Pharaoh and turned neatly bandaged bundles of rubbish into a nice little earner. Before the reopening this month of the Egyptian Galleries at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, curators took their animal and human mummies to the city's Addenbrooke's Hospital, as part of a £1.5m re-display of the internationally renowned collection, which dates in part back to the founding of the museum in 1816.
Analysis continues after the mummies were run through a CT scanner and other tests, but the preliminary results are startling. The two baby crocodile shaped mummies were originally sold to worshippers at the temple at Hawara, to be buried in ritual pits as an offering to the god Sobek. There was clearly a history of problems with the animal sellers: a pharaonic decree a century earlier had ordered that each mummy should contain the body of one animal.
The museum's kitten mummy did indeed hold a very small cat, and there was a sacred ibis within the spectacularly elaborate wrappings of another. The crocodiles however were spectacularly lacking in crocodile: one held a minute vertebra, the other a handful of straw, rags and mud without a scrap of any animal content at all.
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