This bird was so popular in ancient Egypt that millions of its kind were mummified

Anita Durairaj

Animal mummies were more common than human mummies in ancient Egypt.

The most common bird mummy found in ancient Egypt was the sacred ibis (Threskiornis aethiopica) of Southern Arabia and parts of Africa.

The ibis is a medium-sized wading bird that has a slender, down-curved beak. There are 26 species of the ibis.

The sacred ibis is one such species and it was considered sacred because it was connected with the Egyptian god Thoth. The god Thoth was depicted as having the body of a man with the head of an ibis or baboon.

Millions of ibises have been mummified and placed in tombs as an offering to the gods. The birds would have been killed, dipped in resin, and then wrapped to form the mummy.

The sacred ibis species is now extinct from modern Egypt. However, the bird species is still in existence except that it only breeds in Sub-saharan Africa and southeastern Iraq.

In ancient Egypt, the sacred ibis was worshipped as the god Thoth who was associated with the moon as well as magic, judgment, learning, and writing.

The birds were so popular that there may have been more than 5 million ibis mummies buried in tombs all over Egypt.

Some historians believe that the ibises were reared on an industrial scale to account for the large number found in tombs. Others believe that the ibises were captured and kept on farms until they were sacrificed. It is also possible that the ibises were allowed to inhabit a lake or wetland near the temple of the Egyptian gods.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.

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