What is inside the mummies of ancient Egyptian cats? | Facts about mummified cats

The matter is that local archaeologists managed to find at least 30 mummies, which were not touched by robbers. 

how were cats mummified, science blog.
How were cats mummified | Science Blog.

This discovery can tell us a lot about the life of ancient Egyptians, but did you know that thousands of years ago, pharaohs mummified their cats, though it is almost impossible to open the insides of such mummies because of their fragility, but recently French scientists have managed to look into the inside of the animal's embalmed body. 

X-rays and 3D-modeling technology helped them to do this.

The studied cat mummy was found at the beginning of the century and was kept in the Museum of Fine Arts in Rennes. 

Years earlier, scientists were only able to calculate the approximate age of the mummified animal - the body was embalmed about 2.5 thousand years ago. 

However, scientists could not find out in what form the body was preserved under the ancient layers of bandages.

How did they mummify cats?

Since it was extremely dangerous to untie layers of thousands of years of bandages because of the risk of damage to the inside, the researchers decided to resort to technology.

First, they scanned the mummy with X-rays and found out what was behind the layers of bandages. On the basis of the obtained data, the scientists created 3D-models of the cat mummy's entrails and printed a semi-transparent model of the embalmed body.

The cat mummy was reproduced and then printed in 3D. Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes
The cat mummy was reproduced and then printed in 3D. Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes

To the researchers' surprise, there was no cat skull inside the mummified figure - instead, the ancient Egyptians placed a ball of fabric. There were also no vertebrae and rib bones inside, but there were five hind legs and three tails. 

However, scientists then shared that some mummies of cats do not contain a skeleton at all. Perhaps some parts of the animals were used for some ritual, and all other fragments of the body remained inside the mummified figures.

Why did the Egyptians worship cats?

It has been known to many of us since high school that cats were highly admired in Ancient Egypt. The fact is that in those days these fluffy creatures were associated with many gods. For example, the goddess of fun and joy Bast was often painted with the head of a cat. 

The cats were so revered that when the cats died, family members shaved their eyebrows as a sign of grief. Also, the ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote that during fires people sometimes entered burning houses to make sure that there were no cats inside.

Three-dimensional model of a mummified cat picture.
Three-dimensional model of a mummified cat.

By observing the content of this translucent mummy, scientists realized that there was not only one... but several cats! "We expected to see a cat and not several cats," admits Théophane Nicolas, an Inrap researcher involved in the project. "Three almost complete tails" and "five hind legs" were counted. Another surprise is the absence of a skull, which is replaced by a "textile ball".