Unearthed: Mummy pets and Captain Kidd’s silver

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

Captain Kidd
“Captain Kidd in New York Harbor” is a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris from 1920, showing the famous pirate entertaining guests aboard his ship.

First, we’re flying to Madagascar, where Captain Kidd’s sunken pirate treasure was found by underwater explorers!

The 110-pound silver bar they came across likely belonged to the 17th century Scottish pirate, whose criminal adventures on the high seas are as much the stuff of legend as actual history. During his travels, he gathered fortune and fame, and his long-lost treasure has been sought for 300 years.

Now, it just might have been discovered near Madagascar, an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Southeast Africa. Metal detectors indicate there’s other metal near the silver, so historians might soon be singing, “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!”

The Ottoman Empire at the height of its power.

Next, we’re off to Romania, the home of Transylvania and the site of an ancient long-lost capital city from the Ottoman Empire!

Archaeologists dug up a 400-year-old Turkish bathhouse from the Ottoman Empire, which lasted from 1299 to 1923, spreading across parts of southeastern Europe and northern Africa. Romania is northwest of Turkey, across the Black Sea, and is currently the 7th most populated country in the European Union. The newly uncovered bathhouse was known as the Grand Hammam, and it was found in Timisoara, which was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in July 1552. Other fragments of the capital city are emerging as well, as digging continues.

And now, let’s head to Egypt… where scientists are unraveling the mysteries of 3,000-year-old “mummy pets” with X-ray scans of 800 entombed animals. 

An estimated 70 million animal mummies were entombed by Egyptians, and they weren’t just buried to follow their owners into the afterlife, either. Often, the pets were enshrined to fulfill animal cult worship, sacrificed to please the gods, or sent to be gobbled up by their ghostly owners as food! Many of the kitty-shaped tombs are empty, serving instead as a symbolic offering. One scientist even found a crocodile mummy! Maybe its owner wanted some fashionable scaly shoes to walk around with in the hereafter. Why were Egyptians so fond of burying critters? Well, they worshiped animal representations of the gods, like cats for Bastet, crocs for Sebek and Ra, fish for Set, dogs and jackals for Anubis, and bulls for Apis.

Featured image courtesy of Manchester Museum, the University of Manchester.