Australian Arrested in Egypt for Trying to Smuggle Animal Mummies

Teacher, 61, carried wrapped statues that drew airport worker's attention; faces up to 15 years in jail.

An Australian teacher who allegedly tried to leave Cairo with 2,000-year-old animal mummies and statues was charged with smuggling antiquities on Wednesday.

An official at the airport became suspicious at the small statues that were wrapped as gifts in the 61-year-old teacher's suitcase.

When unwrapped, it was found that the tourist had two mummies of a cat and an ibis, a long-beaked bird. He also had 19 statues of the ancient Egyptian gods Horus and Thoth.

Horus is a falcon-headed god, the son of Isis and Osiris, while Thoth, believed to have given people the gift of hieroglyphic writing, is often depicted with the head of an Ibis.

Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) said that the artifacts weighed about 5.5 kilograms.

The man, who was heading to Thailand, has been charged with smuggling antiquities, which can carry a penalty of up to 15 years.

Animal mummification was a common practice throughout Egyptian history. Certain animals, such as ibises and cats, thought to be holy, were mummified and placed alongside the dead in their tombs.