11 Dec 2015

Salima Ikram: The Animal Mummy Project

From Nine To Noon, 10:07 am on 11 December 2015

The Egyptian practice of mummifying has long fascinated us. There have been stories of mummies' curses since Victorian times and the concept of the mummy coming to life has spawned many horror films but the ancient Egyptians didn't just mummify humans, they did the same to animals.

Professor Salima Ikram is the world's leading expert on animal mummies and founder of the Animal Mummy project at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

She says the ancient Egyptians had a very interesting relationship with animals.

"Some animals were supposed to be the manifestations of gods so the idea was that the spirit of the god would enter into that particular animal. During that animal's lifetime it would be revered and then upon its death it would be mummified and the spirit would move into the body of another animal."

She says despite the fact that animal mummies were not valued as artifacts, many have survived, which teaches us a huge amount about the culture and environment of ancient Egypt.

Professor Ikram also teaches people how to mummify animals.