Egyptian Animal Mummies: Science Explores an Ancient Religion

March 23–July 1, 2018 

4th Floor Special Exhibition Gallery
animal mummies copy

 VISITORS TO THE MUSEUM MAY BE FAMILIAR WITH the bronze reliquaries in the ancient Egyptian collection, which would have been dedicated to a deity and may have contained an animal mummy. In the upcoming exhibition, Egyptian Animal Mummies: Science Explores an Ancient Religion, these reliquaries will be presented for the first time alongside the Museum’s collection of animal mummies. Recently conserved for this exhibition, the mummies include a cat, three crocodiles, two ibises, and three falcons.

“The Egyptians believed that animals possessed qualities that were human in nature as well as mysterious. Therefore, they associated animals with the divine realm. Given that the Egyptians’ relationship with the gods and goddesses was an integral part of their daily lives, this exhibition provides essential insight into their ideology,” said Sarah Schellinger, PhD, the exhibition curator and the Museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow.

The exhibition focuses on the creation of the mummies, their role in ancient Egyptian religion, and their burial. In collaboration with the San Antonio Zoo and the Radiology Department at University of Texas Health San Antonio, the mummies underwent modern scientific methods of examination including X-ray imaging and CT scanning, which made it possible to understand and analyze the contents of the mummies without unwrapping them. These tests and their results will be featured in the exhibition.

A dynamic series of educational public programs will complement the exhibition. The highlight will be a lecture by Salima Ikram, PhD, Distinguished University Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, on April 17, 2018. Dr. Ikram is the world’s leading expert on animal mummies.

Animal Mummies: Science Explores an Ancient Religion has been made possible by generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Research Center in Egypt, Sendero Wealth Management, Martha Avant, Thomas Edson, John S. Gutzler and Sarah E. Harte, Cecilia Herrera, Chris Karcher and Karen Keach, Rosario Laird, Dana McGinnis, and Sidney Swearingen.

Please note this exhibition is free with Museum admission.


Ibis Mummy, Egyptian (Late Period–Roman Period), ca. 712 BC–AD 395 Ibis remains and linen, h. 4 ½ in. (11.4 cm); l. 15 ½ in. (39.4 cm) San Antonio Museum of Art, bequest of Gilbert M. Denman Jr., 2005.1.36 Photography by Peggy Tenison

X-ray of Ibis Mummy, 2005.1.36, Image by Radiology Department, University of Texas Health, San Antonio

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