A storage site for sacred ibis mummies at the central-Egyptian site of Tuna el-Gebel, where more than four million ibis mummies have been found (file picture).
Bird mummies were a thriving industry in ancient Egypt and "very important in the political economy of the country," Wade said.
Cults that provided them as votive offerings to paying customers "made astronomical amounts of money," he added.
"We were very excited to work with these animal mummies," he said, "as they are often underappreciated, in spite of the information they can tell us about Egyptian ideology, mortuary practice, political economy, and identity."
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Authors on the ibis-mummy study: Andrew D. Wade, Salima Ikram, Gerald Conlogue, Ronald Beckett, Andrew J. Nelson, Roger Colten, Barbara Lawson, Donatella Tampieri