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In recent weeks it has become the cause for consternation after repeatedly being found facing the wrong way.
Time-lapse video of the statue of a man named Neb-Senu showed it rotating slowly by day, while staying still at night.
Some scientists have suggested the rotation is due to vibrations caused by footsteps of passing visitors. That’s the theory favoured by British television physicist Brian Cox, who teaches at Manchester’s university.
Manchester Museum curator Campbell Price, an Egyptologist, favours a more exotic theory, saying there may be a spiritual explanation for the turning statue.
“I noticed one day that it had turned around. I thought it was strange because it is in a case and I am the only one who has a key,” Price told the Manchester Evening News.
“I put it back but then the next day it had moved again. We set up a time-lapse video and, although the naked eye can’t see it, you can clearly see it rotate on the film. The statuette is something that used to go in the tomb along with the mummy.
“Mourners would lay offerings at its feet. The hieroglyphics on the back ask for ‘bread, beer and beef’.
“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,” Price said.
“Brian [Cox] thinks it’s differential friction,” he said. “Where two surfaces – the serpentine stone of the statuette and the 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?”
With a showman’s touch, Price is urging members of the public to visit the museum to see for themselves.
“It would be great if someone could solve the mystery.” he said.