24 June 2013, 19:20

4,000-year-old Egyptian statue in UK museum moves on its own

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An ancient Egyptian statue has left staff at Manchester Museum puzzled after it started slowly rotating inside its glass case. The 10ins (25cm) high stone statue, which dates back to 1,800 BC and was donated to the museum by a private collector in 1933, has been caught moving on time lapse video.

The phenomenon was only noted after it was moved to another display area a few months ago.

Egyptology curator Annie Garnett said various theories have been advanced ranging from vibration caused by nearby traffic to visitor footfall.

"Professor Brian Cox thinks it is due the differential friction between type of stone and the glass shelf it is on," she said.

To their shock, the time-lapse footage clearly shows the statue doing a slow 180-degrees turn – so slow in fact, it is invisible to the naked eye. Even more mysteriously, it does not appear to rotate any more than 180 degrees and only spins in daylight hours when visitors are passing.

Writing on the Manchester Museum blog, curator Campbell Price said: ‘The cause may be subtle vibrations from football or traffic outside, but the statuette has been on a glass shelf in about the same place in the gallery for decades and has never moved before – and none of the other objects in the case move in any way. A mystery? See for yourself.’

He hints the museum may have been struck by the infamous 'curse of the pharaohs', which is said to affect anyone who disturbs a mummy or pharaoh’s tomb.

"I noticed one day that it had turned around," he said. "I thought it was strange because it is in a case and I am the only one who has a key."

"I put it back but then the next day it had moved again. We set up a time-lapse video and, although the naked eye can’t see it, you can clearly see it rotate on the film. The statuette is something that used to go in the tomb along with the mummy."

"In ancient Egypt, they believed that if the mummy is destroyed then the statuette can act as an alternative vessel for the spirit. Maybe that is what is causing the movement."

Others believe footsteps of passing visitors makes the statuette turn on its glass shelf.

Either way, it’s a mystery that doesn’t look like it’s going to be solved soon.

Voice of Russia, BBC

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