Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt at Brooklyn Museum, through January 21, 2018

“Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt is the first major exhibition to focus on one of the most fascinating and mysterious aspects of ancient Egyptian culture and religion—the mummification of animals. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum and drawn from its renowned Egyptian collection, the exhibition clarifies the role animals, and images of animals, played in the Egyptian natural and supernatural world through 30 mummified birds, cats, dogs, snakes, and other animals and more than 65 objects related to the ritual use of animal mummies.

Excavated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from at least thirty-one different cemeteries, the animal mummies on display cover Egyptian history from as early as 3000 B.C.E. until the Roman period at the end of the second century C.E. “While the exact significance of animal mummies has largely remained a mystery, they are the most numerous type of artifact preserved from ancient Egypt,” stated Edward Bleiberg, Senior Curator, Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Near Eastern Art. “For example, over four million individual ibis mummies have been found at an ancient burial ground in Saqqara, and a nearby dog cemetery yielded over seven million mummies. Soulful Creatures explores the purpose of these mummies, how they were made, and why there are so many.” — Brooklyn Museum

Baboon Appliqué from an Animal Mummy. Possibly from Saqqara, Egypt. Ptolemaic Period, 305–30 B.C.E. Linen, 5½ x 2⅜ in. (14.2 x 5.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.272E. (Photo: Gavin Ashworth, Brooklyn Museum)

Ibis Mummy. From the ibis cemetery at Abydos, Egypt; excavated by the Egypt Exploration Fund. Early Roman Period, 30 B.C.E.–early 1st century C.E. Animal remains, resin, linen, 4 13/16 x 25 5/16 in. (12.3 x 74.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Gift of the Egyptian Exploration Fund, 14.655. (Photo: Gavin Ashworth, Brooklyn Museum)

Horus Falcon-Form Coffin. From Egypt. Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, circa 664–30 B.C.E. Bronze, gold, 11 5/16 x 2 5/8 x 8 3/16 in. (28.8 x 6.6 x 20.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 05.394. (Photo: Gavin Ashworth, Brooklyn Museum)

Ibis Mummy. From the ibis cemetery at Abydos, Egypt; excavated by the Egypt Exploration Fund. Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, 410–200 B.C.E. Animal remains, linen, 5 5/16 x 5½ x 15 9/16 in. (13.5 x 14 x 39.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Gift of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 14.651. (Photo: Gavin Ashworth, Brooklyn Museum)

X-ray of Ibis Mummy (Brooklyn Museum, 14.651)

Isis Nursing Horus. From Saqqara, Egypt. Third Intermediate Period to Late Period, second half of Dynasty 25–Dynasty 26, circa 712–525 B.C.E. Alabaster, bronze, 7⅞ in. (20 cm) high; base: 1¼ x 2 3/16 x 5 5/16 in. (3.1 x 5.5 x 13.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.400E. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)

Model of a Bull. From Egypt. Third Intermediate Period or Late Period, Dynasty 21‒30, circa 1075–332 B.C.E. Reeds, cloth, 5 11/16 x 2⅞ x 9 7/16 in. (14.5 x 7.3 x 24 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1381E. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)

Cat Coffin with Mummy. From Egypt. Late Period, Dynasty 26‒30, 664–332 B.C.E. Wood, gesso, linen, 21¼ x 7 1/16 x 14 3/16 in. (54 x 18 x 36.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1942E. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)

Dog Mummy. From Egypt. Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, 510-230 B.C.E. Animal remains, linen, 3¼ x 17 x 5½ in. (8.3 x 43.2 x 14 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1984E. (Photo: Christine Gant, Brooklyn Museum)

Cat Mummy. From Egypt. Third Intermediate Period to Late Period, Dynasty 22-27, 780-390 B.C.E. Animal remains, linen, 23 13/16 x 4¾ x 5½ in. (60.5 x 12.1 x 14 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1988E. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

Pepy I with Horus Falcon. From Upper Egypt. Old Kingdom, Dynasty 6, reign of Pepy I, circa 2338-2298 B.C.E. Egyptian alabaster, 10 7/16 in. (26.5 cm) high. Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 39.120. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

Ibis Coffin. Possibly from Tuna el-Gebel, Egypt. Ptolemaic Period, 305–30 B.C.E., with later additions. Wood, silver, gold, rock crystal, 15 1/16 x 7 15/16 x 21 15/16 in. (38.2 x 20.2 x 55.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 49.48. (Photo: Gavin Ashworth, Brooklyn Museum)

Cippus of Horus on the Crocodiles. From Egypt. Ptolemaic Period, circa 300‒200 B.C.E. Steatite, 9⅛ x 5 5/16 x 2 3/16 in. (23.2 x 13.5 x 5.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 60.73. (Photo: Gavin Ashworth, Brooklyn Museum)

Crocodile Stela. From Dahamsha, Egypt. New Kingdom, Dynasty 19?20, circa 1292-1075 B.C.E. Limestone, 6½ x 9 11/16 x 2⅝ in. (16.5 x 24.6 x 6.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 67.174 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

Lion. From Egypt. Predynastic Period, Naqada III Period, circa 3300‒3100 B.C.E. Pegmatite, 9¾ x 7⅞ x 12 13/16 in. (24.8 x 20 x 32.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum: Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 73.26. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)

Ibis Mummy. From Egypt. Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, Dynasty 27 or later, 400–110 B.C.E. Animal remains, linen, paint, 4¾ x 2 15/16 x 10⅝ in. (12.1 x 7.5 x 27.0 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Brooklyn Museum Collection, X1179.4. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)

Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt is organized by Edward Bleiberg, Senior Curator, Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Near Eastern Art, and Yekaterina Barbash, Associate Curator of Egyptian Art, Brooklyn Museum.

Images courtesy Brooklyn Museum.