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January 2 2013

100 years ago: When an Egyptian mummy turns out to be a fraud


The Egyptians were perhaps the earliest taxidermists; they made mummies of hawks. Two of these were given to me, and, wishing to see what species had been preserved, I unwrapped them a long and dusty business. I did not discover the species, but I found that some of the embalmers were capable of fraud; the first contained nothing but a handful of feathers, and the other a single bone and a small mass of some bituminous matter. The latter was nicely shaped to suggest an avian form, but the head contained nothing but folded cloth.

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