When images of a spinning Egyptian statue at the Manchester Museum went viral over the summer, curators wondered how the figurine was able to rotate in a sealed display case.
While rumors began to spread about a cursed Egyptian god or a spirit causing the mysterious spinning and an invisible magnetic field, one British engineer has uncovered the truth, Reuters reports.
According to Steve Gosling, the 3,800-year-old statue is affected by the tiny vibrations of foot traffic from museum visitors. He came to the realization as part of a television series focused on solving mysteries.
"The statue was rotating due to vibrations entering the display case," Gosling told Reuters. "We installed an accelerometer and found that vibrations from both road traffic and footfall within the museum were the cause."
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Gosling placed a three-axis sensor under the wall-mounted cabinet to record any vibrations felt for 24 hours. At 6 p.m. he found the statue experiences a peak in vibrations that fell off overnight and began again the following day.
“The vibration is a combination of multiple sources so there’s buses outside on the busy road, there’s footfall activity. And it’s all of those things combined,” he told ITV.
Gosling adds the statue was off-balance, which further added to its tendency to rotate. The bulk of the figurine’s weight rested on one end.
“This statue has a convex base. There’s a lump at the bottom which makes it more susceptible to vibrations than the others which have a flat base. This is conclusive,” Gosling said.
The 10-inch statue depicts a man called Neb-Senu making an offering to Osiris – the god of the underworld. A private collector donated the statue to the museum 80 years ago.
Campbell Price, the museum’s curator, had initially spotted the statue spinning in February. It turned 180 degrees and revealed an inscription on its back asking for beer. In April, the museum installed a time-lapse camera that showed it moved during the day, CNN reported at the time.
"What is very strange is that the statue has spun in a perfect circle," Price said. "It hasn't wobbled off in any particular direction."
Price said he expected a logical explanation to the statue’s mysterious movements.
"Everyone wants a mystery and there's this connection between ancient Egypt and mystery and the unexplained which made this story go around the world,” he told The Telegraph. "But actually we maybe always suspected there was just a very logical explanation."