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Australian Institute of Archaeology Bundoora, Victoria

The Australian Institute of Archaeology was founded in 1946 as an organisation to facilitate and monitor the scientific study of the Biblical period. To assist in this process the Institute has developed a significant archaeological library and a noteworthy museum collection comprising Near Eastern artefacts.

The Institute provides resources for those who study the Ancient Near East generally. The Library is available for reference by students and teachers and the replica collection and illustrative material may be accessible for teaching.

The artefact collection provides material for students of archaeology to study by way of a hands-on introduction to the discipline and as the basis for research. The artefacts include many sherds and samples of archaeological material.

The Institute also arranges public lectures, sponsors exhibitions, promotes research and produces occasional publications. It also publishes a journal, Buried History containing papers that utilize the results of historical research shedding light on the ancient Near East for a general readership.

The Institute was established with a conservative tradition illustrated by such people as William Ramsay and Flinders Petrie. It aims to draw upon all means of study, geographical, epigraphical, geological, ethnographical and archaeological, to encourage an informed understanding of the Biblical story, which is integral to many aspects of civilisation as we know it, and more generally to promote a credible view of history.

Contact Information

location
Mont Park complex (near La Trobe University) Bundoora Victoria (map)
phone
+61 03 9455 2882
Contact

Opening Hours

The Museum collection of the Australian Institute of Archaelogy provides material for students of archaeology to study by way of introduction to the discipline. Also available to researchers by appointment.

Entry Fee

None

Location

Mont Park complex (near La Trobe University) Bundoora Victoria

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This collection, established in 1954, began as a way of displaying the background and history of the Bible. It includes antiquities from Egypt, Eastern Mediterranean, Levant and Mesopotamia. Collection strengths include Palestinian pottery, Egyptian pottery, Syrian glass, clay tablets, a mummified child, and replicas. The collection was originally displayed in Ancient Times House in Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, but is now in facilities on the perimeter of LaTrobe University.

Significance

This collection provides resources for the study of Middle East and religious history.

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Mummified Cat - Charlie

Australian Institute of Archaeology, Bundoora

Mummified cat remains.

Historical information

Neutron scans from ANSTO reveal that only portion of the animal, probably a cat, was wrapped in the mummy. Preliminary reports of C14 dating indicates that it dates from about 600BCE. It was discovered in the 1850s in Egypt. Many animals in ancient Egypt were deemed to represent a specific deity. Egyptologists have suggested that in the first millennium B.C. an act of popular piety was to place a mummified animal as a votive offering in a catacomb established at a cult center of that deity. Such an act may be expected to afford protection and bring good fortune. More recently, a close connection between the veneration of sacred animals and the worship of the king has been proposed, with the suggestion that these offerings were obligatory for religious officials and soldiers connected with certain royal cults. Interment of sacred animals was quite common in the Ptolemaic period (304-30 BCE) and continued well into the first half of the Roman period, or the second century CE. Cat cemeteries have been found throughout Egypt, and it is probably the Goddess, Bastet's association with her divine sisters in the wild, the malevolent Sakhmet and other lion-headed goddesses, that accounts for the presence of very large cat catacombs at Saqqara, Thebes, and Beni Hasan, where these leonine deities were particularly revered. There were several ways in which the cats were prepared for deposition; in the simplest cases the bodies were mummified and wrapped in linen strips, which were sometimes dyed different brown tones and woven to form geometric patterns. Usually the limbs were positioned close to the body, making a compact bundle but some mummies held lifelike poses. Egyptians considered certain individual animals to be living manifestations of a god, such as, the Apis bull. Individuals were mummified when they died and buried for eternal life, then replaced by another single living manifestation. Research on animal mummies shows that the majority of mummies found at the large animal cemetery sites are pre-adults who were purposely killed for use, sometimes by breaking the neck. Some mummies are 'substitutes' containing only a few bones or feathers or possibly sticks or sand.