Gifts for the Gods: Animal Mummies at Liverpool

Cat Mummies that feature in the 'Animal Mummies" exhibition. Own photo
Cat Mummies that feature in the ‘Animal Mummies” exhibition. Own photo

If you didn’t get to see the Animal Mummies exhibition in Manchester or Glasgow, fear not, there is still a chance to delve into one of the most fascinating aspects of ancient Egyptian religious practice.

“Animal Mummies Revealed” is now on show at the World Museum Liverpool until February 26, 2017.

This marvellous exhibition looks at different animal mummies, including cats, birds, and crocodiles, which were prepared in vast numbers as votive offerings for the gods. The exhibition also delves into the history of how many of them made their way into English museums and private collections from the 19th century onwards. These artefacts still have much to reveal about ancient religion, animals, and much more.

These beautifully wrapped ibis mummies illustrate the effort and time put into animal mummification. Own photo
These beautifully wrapped ibis and crocodile mummies illustrate the effort and time put into animal mummification. Own photo

Ground breaking scientific research, including CT scanning, has been integrated into the exhibition, revealing what is inside some of these artfully wrapped mummies. Not all of them are what they seem to be, shedding light on how producing votive offerings became a huge business for some temples.

A CT scan of a cat mummy. Own photo
A CT scan of a cat mummy. Own photo

This is a wonderful exhibition, which will enthrall and fascinate all ages. Despite the somewhat macabre aspect of mummification, animal lovers will be interested to learn how the ancient Egyptians saw animals as having a direct connection to the divine – they could intercede on behalf of the individual to send a private prayer or request to a particular deity.

The cover of the exhibition catalogue.
The cover of the exhibition catalogue.

A well researched and illustrated catalogue (Gifts for the Gods: Ancient Egyptian Animal Mummies and the British, edited by Lidija McKnight & Stephanie Atherton-Woolham) accompanies the exhibition, with contributions by curators and scholars from around the UK.

This adorable fellow may be available in the gift shop! Own photo
This adorable fellow may be available in the exhibition gift shop! Own photo

So, make a visit to Liverpool before the exhibition ends in February. If you are looking for something to keep the kids amused & engaged during Halloween or over the Christmas holidays, then this exhibition will do the trick, and you are sure to come away having discovered something new about the ancient Egyptians.

Tara Draper-Stumm

** For further details on the exhibition visit the Liverpool Museums website – the exhibition runs until February 26, 2017.

**A video about the exhibition is available via You Tube

**Please note my photos show the exhibition as it was displayed in Manchester.

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