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A Spinning Statuette at Manchester Museum

Sophia Macpherson talks to us about the spinning statuette of a mummy at Manchester Museum

Back in the summer of 2013, the Manchester Museum found itself thrusted suddenly into the spotlight. At the hands of social media, a video quickly circulated of the figurine statue of Neb-Senu seemingly rotating by itself. Understandably, social media went into a frenzy and started spouting ideas such as that the spirit of Neb-Senu was enclosed in the statue and was the force that was moving it. I remember watching the video and feeling goose bumps grow all over my body – it made me fantasize about all of the Ancient Egyptian romanticised films I had watched as I had grown up. This 10-inch statuette had transported me back to my childhood and consequently, had reignited my interest in Ancient civilisations. Having only briefly studied it as a child, the power of social media allowed me to rediscover a subject that I had once forgotten but now captivates me. These remnants of the past allow the mind to wonder to a time where we would normally not be able to enter.

After watching the video, I decided to learn of its context; the name Neb-Senu is said to be the present-day equivalent of the name John Smith and he was most likely a civil servant and died in his senior years. The idea that what once used to be a fairly simple man, both in name and profession, has caused such commotion in our present lives (some 3,800 years later) amused me deeply. It shows that the past truly does have an impression on the present; this mummy statuette has impressed thousands of people on social media and in result, has added to this supernatural stigma that is attached to Ancient Egypt. For me, what this mummy has shown me is that we have a pre-constructed, somewhat glamorised idea of Ancient Egypt and its society.


Sophia is a 2nd year BA Anthropology/Archaeology student at Manchester University and doing a week-long placement at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.

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