Thousands of years ago, in ancient Egypt, animals were considered to be the earthly reincarnation of the gods. For this reason, they were highly revered and had a special place in society.
Often, wealthy Egyptians would pay colossal sums to mummify animals, hoping to receive their holy blessing.
According to data of Egyptologists, there were an estimated 70 million animals mummified in ancient Egypt. The mummification of quadrupeds was a highly developed industry, able to compete only with the mummification of people.
This impressive number of animal mummies made some scientists wonder about where the ancient taxidermists could have found so many animals. They carried out tests on the animal mummies found so far and found something shocking.
In actuality, nearly 1/3 of all animal mummies were fake.
This scam was found thanks to modern technology. The animal mummies were studied by Egyptologists from the University of Manchester and Manchester Museum with a modern CT scanner and X-ray machine.
Author of this discovery was Lydia McKnight and her team, who were left in shock and awe from what they found. In most of the analyzed mummies, there weren't even whole animals, only bone fragments. In 1/3 of the studied artifacts, there were no traces of any animal.
According to the researchers, mummifiers were forced to resort to this scam in order to keep up with increased demand. Years of this vicious practice of mummifying animals led some species, such as baboons, to the brink of extinction.
That's why when orders for mummified baboons kept pouring in, while the animals became ever rarer, more difficult to catch and as such quite expensive, they simply began creating fakes.
It can be postulated with high certainty that the ancient residents of Egypt were aware of the fakes but somehow managed to find a place for them in their value and religious systems.
The trend of the mummification of animals and the fact that this process was being faked reveals many interesting facts about ancient Egypt and the climatic changes to scientists.
Aside from the religious significance of the practice, the presence of so many ibises is an indication that in the past Egypt was a lot greener and more humid, because ibis birds only flock to large water basins.
Today, the only ibises that can be found on Egyptian territory are mummified ones. Other specimens can be spotted in the humid zones of the sub-Sahara.