KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology

The Ancient Egyptian Animal Bio Bank Project

  • The Ancient Egyptian Animal Bio Bank.

    The Ancient Egyptian Animal Bio Bank.

  • Recording animal remains in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.

    Recording animal remains in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.

  • Identifying unwrapped animal remains in the World Museum Liverpool.

    Identifying unwrapped animal remains in the World Museum Liverpool.

  • Photographing wrapped animal mummies in Manchester Museum. Copyright Alan Seabright.

    Photographing wrapped animal mummies in Manchester Museum. Copyright Alan Seabright.

  • Using digital radiography for a 'first look' at the contents of animal mummies.

    Using digital radiography for a 'first look' at the contents of animal mummies.

  • CT scanning a crocodile mummy.

    CT scanning a crocodile mummy.

  • Sampling animal mummies.

    Sampling animal mummies.

  • Using light microscopy to catalogue mummy samples.

    Using light microscopy to catalogue mummy samples.

The University of Manchester has been the home of mummy research since the 1970s when the Manchester Mummy Project was established by Rosalie David (David 1979). Although the animal mummies from Manchester Museum were radiographed during the first phase of research in the 1970s, research specifically focussing on animal mummification began at Manchester in 2000, leading to the foundation of the Ancient Egyptian Animal Bio Bank in June 2010 (McKnight et al. 2011).

The Bio Bank is a centralised data bank containing information and images (photographic and radiographic) on animal mummies held in museum collections around the world. To date, the Bio Bank contains records for over 800 votive mummies from 57 museums, and this number continues to grow. Mummy research at Manchester continues to favour non-invasive investigative techniques, beginning with a comprehensive photographic record and radiographic study with the help of our imaging partners - the Central Manchester NHS Trust and the Portland Hospital, London. All mummies, provided they are in a state suitable for transportation, are X-rayed and CT scanned to create an internal picture of each mummy. Around 330 animal mummies have been radiographed so far by the Bio Bank team, making this the largest cross-collection, cross-species study of its kind.

In some cases, clinical techniques prove inconclusive and it is necessary to conduct further analysis using industrial imaging (micro CT) or through the use of advanced visualisation techniques and 3D printing technology (McKnight et al. 2015b). The application of clinical imaging remains invaluable in mummy studies; however, mummies are a diverse and unique group of artefacts and their study requires a great deal of expertise to obtain useful data. A pioneering protocol has been developed at Manchester for the study of mummified remains, which we hope will be used by other research groups in the future (McKnight et al. 2015).

Anyone wishing to discuss this research or offer support should contact Prof. Andrew Chamberlain (andrew.chamberlain@manchester.ac.uk) for further information on how to do so.

Making a Difference Awards 2016

In May 2016 the Bio Bank team were thrilled to win the 'Outstanding Public Engagement Initiative’ category at the Making a Difference Awards.

Read more about this on the Research outputs and disseminations page.

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