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The mystery of 4000 year old statue that keeps rotating in its display case

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Here’s a bit of a head scratcher for all those who can’t resist a bit of ancient mystery. A statue of Nebsenu in the Manchester Museum seems to keep gradually turning in its display case.

The 10 inch tall statue, an offering to Osiris, god of the dead, which dates back to 1800 BC and which has been in the museum’s hands for 80 years since it was discovered in a mummy’s tomb, seems not to be able to resist the occasional slow pirouette.

The statuette’s movements have been captured on film by a time-lapse camera, and curator Campbell Price, 29, says he has started to wonder whether the explanation may defy physics.

‘I noticed one day that it had turned around,’ he said. ‘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.

‘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 statue turns 180 degrees over several days to face the back of its glass cabinet, and requires putting back into the frontal position with increasing regularity. This movement seems to be a recent development and certainly has not been a feature of its 8 decade residency in Manchester.

It appears to spin only during daylight, and always stops at 180 degrees. Some, including Professor Brian Cox, have suggested that vibrations of passing footsteps and visitor crowds are at t he heart of the mystery statuette turn on its glass shelf.

Mr Price said: ‘Brian thinks it’s “differential friction” where two surfaces, the stone of the statuette and glass shelf it is on, cause a subtle vibration which is making the statuette turn. But it has been on those surfaces since we have had it and it has never moved before.

‘And why would it go around in a perfect circle? It would be great if someone could solve the mystery.’

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