Is this Egyptian statue possessed?

A friend of mine shared a link with me today, to an article about an Egyptian statue in the Manchester Museum that seems to spin without any human interference. Here is a video contained in the article:

This is a time-lapse video taken over the period of a week, from 02 April 2013 to 09 April 2013 (the date stamp in the top right of the video is too blurry to read at the end, so this is my guess as to the last day).

Two things are immediately obvious:

1. The statue spins counter clockwise

2. It only spins during the day when there are lots of people moving through the museum.

According to the article, an Egyptologist at the museaum suggests that the museum may have been struck by an ancient curse. Wooooooooo.

Campbell Price, the Egyptologist in question, says:

“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.”

Is this a haunted statue? Is there a malevolent spirit? Has the museum been cursed? Will more statuettes be turned?

Probably not.

There are two, more prosaic, explanations. Professor Brian Cox suggested that this rotation might be caused by differential friction. That is, the footfalls of visitors to the museum cause a vibration which travels through the wall and into the glass case holding the statuette. This, in combination with any imperfection in the base of the statuette, could cause the statuette to rotate. This accounts for the lack of movement during the night: No visitors = no vibration = no movement.

An alternative explanation is that someone is turning the statue.

It only moves during the day, when there are hundreds of people going past. Only one guy has a key to the cabinet. He sets up a time-lapse video. And the explanation is a curse of some kind?

Yeah. Because there’s no way that he’d be opening the case and turning the statue when there are lots of other people moving in the background to obscure his actions. I slowed the YouTube video down to 0.25x speed, I cranked the quality up as high as it would go, because within the first second of the video it looks like someone has their hand on top of the statue’s head as it moves.


Occam’s Razor: when presented with multiple competing explanations the one with the fewest new assumptions is probably the correct one. So, physics, dodgy museum guy trying to drum up publicity or spiritual possession for which there is absolutely no evidence?


12 responses to “Is this Egyptian statue possessed?

  1. According to the BBC report ( a “… camera was placed in …” the “… sealed case …”. No mundane explanations were ruled out, therefore the conclusion was that “… what’s to say that the spirit of this individual ..hasn’t reentered the statue …?”. Not to speak of the millions in free advertising they’ve received.

  2. If this is an ancient pharaonic curse at work would have to be the lamest curse in history. He who disturbs the tomb shall have his ornaments very slowly rearranged.

  3. The temptation to take the piss out of the woo woo crowd must have been too overpowering. And yes, we’re probably moving into spirit possession territory here.

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