The Mystery of the Spinning Ancient Egyptian Statue

by Hrag Vartanian on June 24, 2013

A Manchester Museum doesn’t know why a 10-inch tall statue of a man named Nebo-Sanu (c. 1,800 BCE), which was an offering to the Egyptian God Osiris, is spinning in its display case. While a number of people have conjured up scientific theories to explain the peculiar phenomenon, including “vibrations caused by the footsteps of passing visitors” or “differential friction,” one Egyptologist at the museum, Ken Price, has a more mystical idea that he explained to the Manchester Evening News:

“I noticed one day that it had turned around. 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.

“Mourners would lay offerings at its feet. The hieroglyphics on the back ask for ‘bread, beer and beef’.

“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.”

The museum’s time-lapse video clearly shows the statue moving slowly during the day, while remaining still at night. It also doesn’t indicate that any person is moving or touching the statue to make it move. The 180 degree movement — the statue stop after that point — appears to be a new phenomenon, according to the curator, and the statue has been in the Museum’s collection for 80 years.

The mystery of the spinning Ancient Egyptian statue continues …

h/t Gawker

  • Get Hyperallergic in your Inbox!

    Subscribe to our email newsletter. (Daily or Weekly)

Hyperallergic welcomes comments and a lively discussion, but comments are moderated after being posted. For more details please read our comment policy.
  • How about moving the statues around in the case and see if that makes any difference. Do any other pieces spin when in that spot, or does that one stop spinning in a different spot

  • The spirit in the staue is looking for a way back to Egypt to a older and less phanatic time.

    Regards Knut Holt

Previous post:

Next post: