January 31, 2017

"The Exploitation of 'Sacred Birds' - The Raptor Mummies of the Musée des Confluences, Lyon"

Rozenn Bailleul-LeSuer

Saturday, February 4, 2017
5:00 PM
LaSalle Banks Room of the Oriental Institute

The collection of animal mummies held in the Musée des Confluences, Lyon, originally collected and examined by L. Lortet and C. Gaillard, two pioneers in the study of the ancient Egyptian fauna, is an exceptional resource for the study of sacred animal cults, in particular the various cults involving the mummification of birds of prey. The remains of a wide variety of raptors – falcons, hawks, kites, buzzards, eagles, and vultures – feature prominently in this collection in the form of approximately 600 wrapped and unwrapped specimens, representing a quarter of the mummified animals in Lyon.

For the first time since their acquisition by the museum, this large dataset of Egyptian raptorial remains is considered as a whole as part of the MAHES (Momies Animales et Humaines ÉgyptienneS) research project.  This lecture will present the various tools used during the course of the project to not only identify the various species of birds of prey captured by ancient Egyptians, but also discuss the management strategies implemented to supply the numerous sanctuaries dedicated to the falcon god Horus with the birds necessary to fuel the quasi-industrial production of avian mummies.

Rozenn Bailleul-LeSuer is a Research Associate at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, where she recently received her Ph.D. in Egyptology. She is also a member of the research project MAHES based in Montpellier, France. In 2012-13, she was guest curator of the Oriental Institute Museum special exhibit entitled Between Heaven and Earth: Birds in Ancient Egypt.

This lecture is sponsor by the Chicago chapter of the American Research Center in Egypt.