An Egyptian Mummified Falcon, Late Period, ca. 664 - 332 BCE


The mummified bird firstly dipped in hot liquid resin then carefully wrapped in fine linen bandages, now a pale light brown.   The full skeleton, including the head are maintained within the body of the wrappings, the feet and head constructed from padded linen and fiber over which is wrapped a layer of fine, tightly woven cloth.  The face features markings in black ink, the artificial eyes and beak of embossed linen are applied and also highlighted in black.

When viewing the x-ray of the mummy, the ventral-lateral position of the skull suggests this falcon was dispatched by breaking the neck in accordance with standard Egyptian practises at that time.   One talon can clearly be seen in extension below the cranium as can the humerus and ulna, carpal and metacarpal together with smaller bones, such as the vertebrae and phalange, and portions of the major and minor carpometacarpus, confirming this animal to be a member of the Falconidae family. 

Background:   Sacred animals were considered to be the incarnation of the god on earth and worshiped as a living incarnation of that god throughout their lifetime. The God's "Divine Essence" was thought to have entered into the animal, transforming it into a divinity so they were therefore often kept in the precinct of their associated deity's temple. The animals, including falcons, lived a life of luxury, and were mummified and buried with great ceremony.

cf:  Morgan, Lee W., and Susan McGovern-Huffman. “Noninvasive Radiographic Analysis of an Egyptian Falcon Mummy from the Late Period 664-332 BC.” Journal of Avian Biology, vol. 39, no. 5, 2008, pp. 584–587. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/30244489.

Dimensions: Overall length: 19.5 inches (49.5 cm)

Condition:  Expected loss and splitting to the linen, part of the painted facial details, the nose and one of the applied eyes now missing-- with some splits and flaking.  Otherwise, the mummy is intact and in very good condition overall.

Provenance:   Northeast U.S. Private Collection, said to have been purchased in Cairo in the early 1950's, during the time of the Farouk palace sales, and cleared for release by the Cairo museum at that time.  Thereafter sold at auction in 2006, California, lot 871.

Category: $5500 - $10000, Animals

Type: Egyptian

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