This week has been an exciting one for the Bio Bank. Our first experimental mummy, EM1, turned one this week, marking an important milestone in her ‘life’. One year might not seem much of an achievement when the ancient Egyptian managed to produce mummies which have survived thousands of years, but every mummy has to start somewhere and we are really pleased with our first attempt at mummification.
It was really important that we used species known to have been mummified in ancient Egypt and using techniques that we see evident in the archaeological remains themselves. The Natural History Museum have been kind enough to donate a number of specimens to the project for this purpose. All have died natural deaths and have been collected by the Museum for research purposes. EM1 is a female sparrow hawk who was simply mummified using a resin:beeswax mixture, without evisceration, and with layers of linen wrappings applied. We wanted to try the same simple method on a falcon species, so a Kestrel was chosen. Today, EM2 was preserved.
Prior to the mummification process, the Kestrel made a journey over to the Manchester Royal Infirmary with EM1 to be studied using radiography. This method helps to show us whether the bird suffered any trauma to the skeleton prior to death so we can establish whether we are responsible for any fractures during the mummification process. This process will be repeated frequently over the coming months to assess the preservation of the experimental bird mummies.