Soulful Creatures

by Joseph McKeown


 An ibis coffin at Brooklyn Museum.

An ibis coffin at Brooklyn Museum.

In honor of Halloween this week, I checked out Brooklyn Museum's new exhibit Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt. This exhibit, the first major one to focus on the mummification of animals in ancient Egyptian culture, draws on the museum’s renowned collection and displays thirty mummies alongside related Egyptian art. The reasons for mummification are not entirely known but there are theories: owners mummified beloved pets to perhaps join them in the afterlife; others mummified animals to provide a food source for the deceased in the next life; and still others paid for the mummification to receive the favor of the god associated with that animal. The exhibit also shares the scientific tests used to discover how the Egyptians performed animal mummification. The animal mummies on display were fascinating, and I especially admired the craftsmanship in the elaborate ancient gilded ibis coffin (pictured above) that contains a simple ibis mummy. Check the exhibit out, but be careful: at night all the mummies come to life and wander the museum. Don't get locked in!