We have been opening Egyptian tombs for decades, now – much to the chagrin of the superstitious among us – and I would venture to say that we have uncovered any number of surprises.
Perhaps none so large and intimidating as these giant crocodile mummies, though I suppose if one is familiar with the residents of the Nile, it’s not quite as shocking as it might be.
The crocodiles in question were found at the bottom of a rock tomb, and while it’s not weird to find mummified animals, these are different enough to intrigue archaeologists.
Authors described what they found in an official statement.
“Ten crocodile mummies, including five more or less complete bodies and five heads, were found in an undisturbed tomb at Qubbat al-Hawa (Aswan, Egypt). The mummies were in varying states of preservation and completeness.
The find is located on the west back of the Nile and dates to around the 5th century BCE.
Since the crocodiles were wrapped in linen bandages and palm leaves as opposed to being preserved with resin or bitumen, their innards were easier to image – an exciting realization for the curious.
Scientists believe their bodies dried out naturally over time on a bed of sand, which means that a majority were in a poor state to begin with, though one did retain both skin and some soft tissue.
Using CT and radiograph technology, the team was able to see inside the remains without unwrapping or damaging them. They found two separate species: one West African and one Nile crocodile (the longest of which was over 11 feet large).
They were not able to determine how the predators were caught and subdued, since there were no physical injuries present. Instead, they posit the giant reptiles succumbed to drowning, suffocation, or overheating.
It appears Egyptians were excited about having crocodiles along on their journey to the afterlife. They would make good gifts, apparently, and you know. Having the bragging rights after subduing something so fierce couldn’t hurt.
Part of me is glad that I don’t have to wrestle any large reptiles to take with me when I go.
Then again, there’s something to be said for having something to look forward to.