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A Glimpse into the Past: Mummified Gazelle of Queen Isetemkheb D (c. 1070-945 BC)

In the heart of ancient Egypt, where lavish burials were reserved for royalty, a surprising discovery speaks volumes about the reverence and care given even to the animal companions of the elite. A mummified gazelle, a cherished pet of Queen Isetemkheb D during the Third Intermediate Period (21st Dynasty, around 945 BC), has offered a fascinating insight into the customs and beliefs of this era.

This noble creature, carefully prepared for eternity, was found interred in the royal cache known as “DB320.” Its burial attests to the close bond shared between the queen and her beloved gazelle.

The gazelle’s final resting place was far from ordinary. It lay nestled in a custom-made wooden coffin, adorned with fine, blue-trimmed bandages. The coffin itself, crafted from several pieces of wood, possibly sycamore, was meticulously doweled together. Both its interior and exterior were coated with a layer of pristine white plaster, an ode to the purity and significance of the journey to the afterlife.

The exterior of the coffin bore the solemn touch of black paint, while the interior remained an immaculate white canvas. Within this carefully designed vessel, the gazelle was swathed in several meters of linen bandages, likely repurposed from larger garments. Notably, one of these bandages featured a border decoration of four delicate lines of blue thread, perhaps symbolizing the celestial realm.

The care taken extended beyond the wrappings; the gazelle’s interior was filled, possibly with its viscera, and packed with sandy soil to preserve its graceful form for the journey ahead.

Today, this extraordinary artifact, a testament to the deep respect for life and death in ancient Egypt, can be found in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, captivating visitors with its timeless story of companionship and reverence.