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Dummy Mummies

The ancient Egyptians often mummified animals - and not just the family pet. If something was once alive, whether it was a cat, a bird, or even a bull, the ancient Egyptians mummified it. Most animal mummies were offerings to the gods.

   If you were sick and wanted to feel better, you might bring a mummified cat as an offering to the cat goddess Bastet. A priest would say a prayer and place the cat in a special section of the temple. Where would you get the cat mummy? From breeders who raised cats just for this purpose. You bought the cat, then it was killed and mummified.



   Then the cat would probably be buried in ancient Egypt's largest cemetery, located under the sands of Saqqara. In the part of the cemetery known as the falcon gallery, there are miles of tunnels holding more than a million mummified falcons dating from 300 B.C. to A.D. 200. The Egyptians brought falcon mummies to the falcon god Horus, hoping to be healed of some disease.

   Scientists at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut recently X rayed two falcon mummies and were shocked to find that they were fakes. Beneath the fancy cloth wrapping was just more cloth--no bird, no bones! They were just dummy mummies that had been sold to unsuspecting customers. - Bob Brier

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