National Archaeological Museum of Parma (Palace of Pillotta) will hold a conference to present the public with interesting news emerged from the study of the cat mummy kept at the same museum.
The conference was attended by Giacomo Gnudi, the veterinarian radiologist at the University of Parma who carried out the examination and Roberta Conversi, the archaeologist in charge of the museum’s Egyptian section. While waiting to find the necessary funds for the restoration, the mummy will be exhibited for the first time to the public.
An X-rays on the cat mummy kept at the National Archaeological Museum of Parma have found that inside the wrapping is the entire animal, a young specimen of the age of 4 or 5 months, dating back some 2000 years ago. While not a rarity, it is a finding of great importance, connected with the cult of the cat goddess Bastet, the Egyptian god pledge of fertility, health and earthly pleasures.The cat mummy was purchased from antiquarian in the nineteenth century, along with most of the other artifacts from the museum’s Egyptian collection.
Protector of the home, beloved by the Egyptians for his skill as a hunter of mice, from the XXII Dynasty (945-715 BC), the cat begins to be regarded as the incarnation of the gods and the female specimen, in particular, the earthly representative of the goddess Bastet. Temples dedicated to her begin to arise in all of Egypt, first of all built in the city of Bubastis, along the Nile in Lower Egypt. In the early days, when he died, the cat was mummified and buried in mass graves at the temple, but from the third century. B.C. it begins to breed animals especially near the temples to make mummy bought to let the devotees in the temples as offerings.
Archaeological excavations have recovered thousands of mummies of cats died prematurely or in an unnatural manner, especially kittens between two and four months of age, sacrificed in large numbers because they are more suited to the mummification.
According to the archaeologist of the Superintendence Roberta Conversi this is certainly the case with the cat-mummy of the Museum of Parma. The finding is accurate and high quality construction and inside of the band’s entire body of the cat while it is not uncommon to find only a part of the animal, if not pieces of another, or even the mere puppet, nothing in it.
The bands are arranged to form geometric patterns while the eyes are painted with black ink, on small round pieces of linen bandages. The Egyptian market offering various models of cat mummies-made to meet customer demands devotees, version “economic”, which could contain only a part of the animal or even be empty shells, in mummies of high quality, well-kept, with whole animals and wrap the painting.
Radiographs obtained by Giacomo Gnudi, veterinary radiologist at the University of Parma, show that the cat was bound to take up as little space as possible, with the ribs compressed and the front legs placed very close to the chest, a broken / hole in the skull also seems to confirm the hypothesis of an unnatural death. All data, archaeological and radiological, combine to make the cat mummy of National Archaeological Museum of Parma a finding of great importance and scientific interest. The hope of the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Emilia-Romagna is that someone will come forward to support the delicate surgery necessary to restore its future exposure.
Roberta Conversi (archaeologist) roberta.conversi beniculturali.it @ tel. +39 0521 233718
Giacomo Gnudi (UNIPRO) giacomo.gnudi unipr.it @ tel. +39 0521 032789