Conserving Egyptian animal mummies

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 A recent arrival here in the organics conservation studio is this strange little collection of Egyptian animal mummies from World Museum.

several small animal-shaped mummies on a table

Here we have pear-shaped folded-up birds, cats with painted faces, a fish, a very small dog, crocodiles and something very neat in the shape of a miniature human mummy. The latter comes labelled as a ‘pseudo-mummy’. It is rather lightweight and unexpectedly flexible. Because of this I doubt it contains any actual animal remains. All will be revealed in due course via our newly upgraded x-ray facilities!

animal form wrapped in very old brown cloth

The head of the crocodile mummy

The linen bandaging on the long crocodile mummy is lovely; it is in a very elaborate interwoven geometric design typical of the Roman period mummies. Sadly, this one has been severely damaged by fire, probably in 1944 when Liverpool Museum (as World Museum was known at the time) was gutted by an incendiary from a German bomber. The damage reveals lengths of wood incorporated to support the body. The larger bird, an ibis, has even more impressive bandaging, in a meticulous diamond pattern built up in twelve layers.

rounded package wrapped in old cloth in a neat pattern

Ibis mummy

Well, I will be spending many happy hours conserving all of these for a touring exhibition later in the year. When they return to Liverpool following the tour, our animal mummies will go into the newly developed and expanded Ancient Egypt galleries in World Museum.