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Mummified remains of 2000-year-old Egyptian cat from Portscatho puzzled Robert Gray

By West Briton  |  Posted: February 14, 2013

By Miles Davis

  • The 2000 year old mummified cat in detail.

  • One of the X-rays of the cat mummy, pictured opposite, clearly showing the skull within the wrappings.

  • Museum curator Jane Marley and Robert Gray look at the X-rays of the mummified cat at the RCM.

  • Robert Gray of Portscatho with the 2000 year old mummified cat. for Miles. Ref : TRGH20130207B-003_C

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THE MYSTERY of a mummified Egyptian cat left languishing in a Roseland attic has been partly solved.

Robert Gray, from Portscatho, inherited the remarkable object from his father, renowned Egyptologist Peter Gray, who died in 1984.

Mr Gray never knew what the arcane package might contain, as many mummified cats were sold by disreputable traders in the ancient world with nothing but rags inside.

However, X-rays carried out at a Truro veterinary surgery have clearly shown the figure of a cat that has been preserved for more than 2,000 years.

Mr Gray said: "My father acquired the cat in the 1970s as a token of thanks from a museum.

"It's been in the loft in Portscatho, where my father had a house; it's been languishing there for 50 years."

Mr Gray said he had always been unsure whether the mummy bundle actually contained a cat: "You went to the mummifiers and said you wanted to send goodwill to the afterlife and some naughty mummifiers would take your money and stuff a bunch of rags inside."

Mr Gray met Jane Marley, from the Royal Cornwall Museum, to open the X-rays, taken at Clifton Villa Vets.

Mr Gray said: "History was made today. I felt quite emotional when I opened it up. It's something that has lived with me for most of my life and it's revealed itself today."

The X-ray showed the cat's neck was intact, he said, which suggested the cat was a prized pet rather than deliberately killed as a sacrifice to the gods.

Mrs Marley, curator of archaeology and world culture at the museum, said: "It was very exciting to see the X-ray. It's a lovely face and the wrapping is very good – it's been very well kept."

Mr Gray's father also played a part in the story of the 2,500-year-old mummy of Iset Tayef Nakht, kept out of sight in storage at the Royal Cornwall Museum until Dr Gray inquired about it in the 1960s.

It is now the River Street museum's most popular exhibit.

The moment of revelation was filmed by the Cornwall Channel. The programmes are broadcast on Monday at 9pm on Sky channel 212 or Freesat 401.

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