General, Research, Technology

Why did the ancient Egyptians mummify millions of birds?

The secrets of the Egyptian pyramids have always attracted archaeologistsall over the world, hoping to contribute to the discovery of the mysteries of ancient civilizations. So, one of the most obscure and strange rites during the burial of a high-ranking person was the mass mummification of birds of the species Thresciornis aethiopicus or African ibis. A few thousand years after the last mummies were committed, scientists finally managed to shed light on the ancient mystery that haunted them.

God Thoth - the reason for the mass sacrifices of birds in ancient Egypt

Why did the Egyptians sacrifice birds?

According to the portal, the Egyptians had the custom of sacrificing birds of the species Thresciornis aethiopicus in honor of the god Thoth, who is often depicted in frescoes as a man with the head of an ibis. Such a strange appearance of the ancient Egyptian deity is associated with the seasonal floods of the Nile River, which were often marked by the mass arrival of African ibis. Being revered by the ancient Egyptians, a small number of birds could live in temples, becoming, after their death, objects for mummification.

Ibis who were sacrificed beforemummification, were found stacked from floor to ceiling along kilometers of catacombs in the main historical places of Egypt. Despite the fact that a huge number of mummified birds were preserved in the catacombs, the researchers for a long time did not have evidence giving a clue to how the Egyptians collected such a staggering number of ibises.

Some historical texts indicatethat the Egyptians may have raised these birds on an industrial scale in special, long-term premises located next to or inside temple complexes. In fact, in one of the fragments of the letter of the priest Sebennitos, who lived in the second century BC, it is said about how he regularly fed thousands of sacred ibises with “clover and bread”.

See also: Traces of ancient mammoth hunters can be found even without excavation.

To find out how the Egyptians minedbirds for sacrifice and mummification, a team led by Sally Wasif of the University of Griffith in Australia analyzed the complete set of genes present in the cell or organism of 14 sacred mummies of Ibis, dating to about 2500 years ago. Comparing the data with modern samples, the researchers came to the conclusion that the Egyptians really domesticated the ibises for a long period of time.

Modern ibis

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Sacred ibis were not the only animalswhich the Egyptians mummified. So, the researchers found many such mummified domestic animals as dogs, cats, monkeys and even falcons, snakes and crocodiles. Such an unusual practice existed not only because of the idea of ​​various incarnations of the gods on Earth, but also in order to preserve the bodies of beloved pets that died ahead of time as long as possible.