Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Egyptians Look to Make Quick Fortune from Bats' Nests

Egyptians Look to Make Quick Fortune from Bats' Nests

Tuesday, 9 October, 2018 - 06:30
A wall of a chamber of the tomb of Mehu near Egypt's Saqqara necropolis in Giza. (Reuters)

In Upper Egypt, the so-called "red mercury" fever has emerged again. People obsessed with this substance have been looking for it in bats' nests, looking to make a fortune.

The red substance is estimated to be worth millions of Egyptian pounds in the markets of archaeological treasures seekers. 

Some have associated the red mercury with bats because their nests are located in the columns and ceilings of ancient Egyptian temples in Luxor and Aswan. 

Many wealthy people, especially in the Arab world, believe that red mercury can extend a person’s life and preserve youth.

Red mercury was rumored to be found in an ancient coffin found in the suburb of Sidi Gaber, Alexandria in July. 

At the time, Dr. Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, refuted the rumors, saying the liquid found inside the coffin was "not the juice of immortality that belongs to mummies," or the so-called red mercury, but rather sewage water.

Sewage had seeped into the coffin through a small leak from the local sewage network.

Archaeologist Mohamed Yehia Oweida told the German news agency that red mercury is "just a myth" and it was never used in ancient Egypt.

The so-called Egyptian or Pharaonic red mercury does not exist, he stressed.

Moreover, until this date, there is no archaeological or scientific evidence that proves that ancient Egyptians used it in mummification.

He denied the rumored discovery of the ancient Egyptians’ so-called "immortality code", which has been sought by humans for centuries.

Oweida highlighted many popular fake myths related to red mercury, such as the discovery of a bottle containing red liquid at the Museum of Mummification in Luxor.

People obsessed with the liquid say the bottle contains red mercury, which can turn cheap metals into precious ones.

He explained that the bottle contained brownish-red liquid. It was found under the mummy of Amun Tefnakht, commander of Egyptian armies who lived during the 27th Dynasty.

The liquid was in fact a residue of some of the materials used in the mummification process, such as sawdust, and resin, aromatic fats and linen rolls.

Editor Picks