Museum mystery: Spinning statue turns heads
2013-06-26 0:00

By Ben Brumfield | CNN

The museum officials were stumped. A statue is supposed to stand still, not rotate all by itself.

But this one at the Manchester Museum seemed to have done just that. Turned around 180 degrees -- revealing an inscription on its back asking for beer.

No other figure in the display had moved -- nor had any other in the museum.

For the staff, it was a bona fide mystery. One that called for some serious sleuthing.

A simple statue

Statuette no. 9325 doesn’t appear to go by any proper name. It’s a prefabricated figure -- an off-the-shelf product -- that was placed into a small tomb around 1800 B.C.

A private collector in Britain donated it to the museum in 1933. The inscription on the back, requesting a sacrifice of beer, bread and animals, was a standard prayer for the deceased.

For decades, the figurine stood perfectly still -- until museum workers moved its case a few feet from its original position.

Turn, turn, turn

In February, curator Campbell Price noticed something curious was afoot.

The statue seemed to have slightly turned.

When he looked next, it was facing another direction. A day later, another.

The turns were subtle. But at the end of each day, you could tell the statue was angled differently.

Caught in the act

In April, museum officials installed a time-lapse camera that snapped an image of the statue every minute of every day for a week.


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