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10 Mummified Crocodiles have Recently been Discovered in an Egyptian Tomb in Aswan

10 Mummified Crocodiles have Recently been Discovered in an Egyptian Tomb in Aswan

Ten mummified crocodiles have recently been discovered in an Egyptian tomb.

The mummies, which were discovered beneath an ancient landfill, provide insight into necropolis life and ancient Egyptian mummification techniques. You might initially believe you're viewing a photograph of crocodiles in motion as they sneak through the muck. The animals, however, are mummies that have likely been preserved in a rite honoring Sobek, an Egyptian fertility god, and may have been dead for more than 2,500 years.

The remains of 10 adult crocodiles, most likely from two different species, were recently discovered in a tomb at Qubbat al-Hawa (The Dom of the Air), on the west bank of the Nile River. Among them were the mummies. Since ancient times, the crocodile has been significant to Egyptian culture. It served as a food supply and was associated with a deity. Additionally, portions of the animal, like as its fat, were utilized as medicines to alleviate physical aches, stiffness, and even baldness. Baboons, cats, ibises, and other mummified animals are frequently discovered in Egyptian tombs.

Other mummified crocodile bones have been recovered, but most of them were juveniles or hatchlings, and the ones found in this recent study were in excellent condition. A research team from the University of Jaén in Spain, directed by Egyptologist Alejandro Jiménez Serrano, invited her to the Qubbat al-Hawa site. Under a Byzantine-era garbage dump, seven tiny graves were found in 2018 by researchers. The mummified crocodiles were located in one of the tombs, which was located between a waste site and four human burials that were thought to date from around 2100 B.C.

Dr. De Cupere investigates everything, including animal prints, coprolites (fossilized excrement), bones, teeth, and shells. Dr. De Capered explained, "You have archaeologists excavating, and if they find animal bones that they think are worthwhile looking at, that's when we enter into the picture.

Based on skull shape and how the bony plates, or scutes, on the animals were arranged, the team hypothesized that the majority of crocodiles in the tomb appeared to be one species, Crocodylus such us, while others were Crocodile niloticus Salima Ikram, an Egyptologist at the American University in Cairo who was not involved in the study, said that gathering this kind of information provided insight into ancient Egyptian understanding of the distinct behaviors of these two species and which the Egyptians would want to interact with,

“because niloticus will eat you, whereas, with such, you can conceivably swim in the same pool and live,” Dr. Ikram said. A lack of resin also indicated that the crocodiles were probably mummified by being buried in the hot, sandy soil, where they dried out naturally before being entombed, which the researchers proposed happened before the Ptolemaic period, which lasted between 332 B.C. and 30 B.C. “From the Ptolemaic period onward, they used huge quantities of resin,” Dr. De Cupere said.

The team hypothesized that the crocodile mummies were buried around the fifth century B.C. when animal mummification was increasingly popular in Egypt. But it will take radiocarbon dating to know for sure. The researchers hope that, in the near future, there will be a chance to perform such dating, as well as DNA analysis to verify the two species. “The discovery of these mummies offers us new insights into ancient Egyptian religion and the treatment of these animals as an offering,” said Dr. Jiménez Serrano.

Dr. Ikram also views these discoveries as an important window into the relationship between people and the Qubbat al-Hawa necropolis, from the first burials over 4,000 years ago to the present day. “Within the community, how were these tombs viewed? What were their uses?” Dr. Ikram said. “You’re seeing how these tombs had after lives and lives.”

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