Ancient Egyptians used to preserve their beloved animals as well. However, a new study reveals that most of the animal mummies, believed to belong to actual embalmed animals, are in fact empty.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from Manchester Museum in collaboration with a group of experts from the University of Manchester.
In order to come to this conclusion, the scientists analyzed more than 800 animal mummies.
This is actually the largest project of its kind and it involved scanning every mummy that was made in the shape of animals, from felines and birds to reptiles like crocodiles and lizards.
According to the team involved in the study, all the animal mummies examined will be displayed at a special exibition held at Manchester Museum on October 8.
The researchers said that a third of all the scanned and X-rayed mummies contain animals that were very well preserved. Another third is filled with partial animal remains, like fragments of bones and body parts.
However, the most surprising discovery was that the rest of the artifacts are actually empty, with no traces of animals, whatsoever.
Lidija McKnight, an expert in Egyptology at the University of Manchester and one of the researchers who made the discovery about the animal mummies, told BBC that the mummies were filled with organic materials, such as sticks, mud and reeds.
McKnight believes that these materials were used by the embalmers instead of real animals. They also used things like feathers and eggshells to fill the mummies.
According to the experts, Egyptians killed more than 70 million animals in order to turn them into mummies, which lead to the extinction of some of the sacrificed species. The researchers added that the mummies were made in order to foster a very important mummification industry.
After analyzing all the artifacts, the scientists discovered that there were four types of animal mummies: most of them consisted of pets that died of natural causes before being mummified and were buried with their masters.
The second kind of animal mummies consisted of sacred beasts which were worshipped and pampered by the Egyptians in life. These animals were mummified and buried in very elaborate tombs.
The third type were animals considered food by their owners in the afterlife. The fourth kind and the most common, were the animals considered religious offerings.
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