A group of researchers trying to determine the reason for the number of mummified birds of prey found in Egyptian tombs are one step closer after recent research.

The research indicates that ancient Egyptians bred birds of prey and force-fed them before offering them to the gods. The researchers from the American University in Cairo, Stellenbosch University, and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies examined a 3-D image of a mummified kestrel (specimen SACHM 2575) that showed the remains of a mouse and a small sparrow in its stomach, and interestingly the kestrel had choked to death on a young house mouse. Kestrels are not known for over-eating, which suggests that it was force fed indicating that it hadn’t died in nature.

ancient-egypt-mummified-kestrel

Photo credit: Stellenbosch University