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Exhibition highlights

Mummified ibis

This mummy contains an ibis bird – an animal sacred to Thoth, god of the moon, magic, and writing. The mummy dates back some 1850 years.

The ancient Egyptians considered particular animals sacred because they appeared to share certain characteristics with the gods. This led to the custom of mummifying animals for use as religious offerings. Entire cemeteries were set aside for mass burial of animal mummies in the name of local gods.


Priests skilled at mummification would have prepared this ibis mummy at the request of a local worshipper. The preservation of animals was generally crude, but the decoration was elaborate.

Ibis remains, linen, resin
Roman Period (about 150 CE)
From Abydos, Egypt
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, gift of the Egypt Exploration Society, 1914

Click on the thumbnails below to see some highlights from the exhibition:
Ba Bird Ka figure shabti Forgery of royal shabti Mummified ibis