Egyptian Statue Moves On Its Own

(Last Updated On: August 23, 2013)

Pharaoh by Jeff Dahl 200px cropScience Fact:

An Egyptian statue moves, and seems to have come to life.

A museum in Manchester, England has a mystery — a ten-inch tall Egyptian statue moves!  The statue dates from 1800 B.C. and is carved from steatite, depicting a standing man.  It is locked in a glass case, and time-lapse photography shows that the Egyptian statue moves, gradually turning counter-clockwise about one-eighth of a turn during the daylight hours; at night, when the museum is closed, it doesn’t move.  And once it turns halfway around, so it faces the wall, it stops moving!

Some folks are creeped out because the back side of the statue has an inscription asking for offerings of “bread, beer, oxen and fowl”, as if the statue is saying, “hey, I’m hungry!”.

Naturally, physicists have stepped forward to try to explain this mystery.  Since it only moves during the day, Brian Cox proposed that its movement is driven by the vibration of visitors’ footsteps near the case, which cause the statuette to bounce slightly.  I suggest the statue’s base was smoothed in circular motions by the sculptor, using an abrasive that left microscopic peaks and valleys. The peaks would be tilted toward the direction of the sculptor’s stroke. Thus the bouncing motion could cause it to rebound with a slight twist, thereby vibrating itself around in a circle.

And why, you ask, might this little man stop when he faces the wall?  Perhaps there is some grease or stickiness on the shelf beneath that grabs a particular spot on the base.  Modern science seems to categorize this as an accidental occurrence that just happened to be noticed because of what it was, and where it was.

Science Speculation:

Of course, modern science may be all wet!  The Egyptians had an advanced society, with skillful craftwork and careful observation of natural phenomena.  What if the sculptor intentionally crafted this piece for a display shelf, counting on it to gradually and mysteriously turn as people walked by?  Perhaps for religious symbolism, perhaps to amuse the owner.  Or what if the sculptor discovered accidentally that one of his statues had this property, so he put a slogan on its back side asking for food?  It wouldn’t be the first time we have re-discovered something that was known to previous civilizations.  On the other hand, maybe I’ve been reading too many Ancient UFO blogs.

Egyptian Statue Moves — why?  What do you think is happening?

Takeaway:  How pleasant to have unknowns popping up in our everyday affairs!  To paraphrase the Pirate King, “For what, we ask, is life / Without a touch of Mystery in it?”

Source:, 6/24/2013 and, 2/25/2013.  Pharaoh image courtesy of Jeff Dahl.

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