10 December 2015 –
21 February 2016
Come face to face with an enormous mummified crocodile from ancient Egypt, covered with small mummified crocodile hatchlings.
The ancient Egyptians believed this mummy was incarnation of the crocodile god Sobek. Nearly 4 metres long, it is coated with resin and has over 25 mummified crocodile hatchlings attached to its back. This display uses state-of-the-art CT scans to reveal this creature’s hidden secrets. Other objects show how Sobek was represented both as a crocodile and as a man with a crocodile’s head.
Animal mummies provide a unique insight into the religious beliefs of ancient Egyptians – the animals could be beloved pets, votive offerings for the gods, or manifestations of the gods themselves. Crocodiles were creatures of both reverence and terror – their connections to the Nile meant they were associated with fertility, but their reputation as a dangerous predator meant they were also feared as killers.
This mummy was found at Kom Ombo, a temple and cemetery site about 50km north of Aswan in Egypt, and it dates to between 650 and 550 BC. Over 300 mummified crocodiles have been found at Kom Ombo. The temple there was dedicated to both the falcon god Horus and Sobek, who personified the strength, power and potency of the pharaoh.
CT scanning at the Royal Veterinary College has revealed that some of the internal organs were removed and replaced with linen packing during mummification. Several fragments of cattle bones, as well as rocks, were also present, likely the remainder of the crocodile’s last meal.