Ancient Egyptian statue spins on its own at Manchester Museum

A statue at the Manchester Museum is slowly spinning in circles. The movement is barely visible to the blind eye, but in a video created by museum employees, the ancient Egyptian statue rotates more than 180 degrees in a smooth, counter-clockwise semi-circle. It's been displayed on a glass shelf for decades, but only started moving earlier this year.

In February, Egyptologist Campbell Price noticed that the statue was facing the back of the display case. He wondered if the movement was related to the text along the spine of the 10-inch statuette, which offers a prayer for the deceased. When he checked again the next day, it had turned another few degrees.

Price and his colleagues created a time lapse video to watch the action. Time lapses capture one photo each minute; strung together into a video, the images show movement over extended periods of time. The time lapse lasted from April 3 to 8. It only moved during daylight hours.

Ultimately, no one knows what's causing the movement. Superstitions aside, Prince says there is likely a simple explanation.

"Logical attempts to explain the statue's movement centre on the subtle vibrations caused by outside traffic, causing imperceptible movement," he explained on the museum's blog. Another possible explanation, he wrote, is that the statue is "vulnerable to magnetic forces."

Adding to the mystery is the smooth rotation: The statue does not wobble even slightly as it turns. It is the only item in the display case that is moving.

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    Danielle Elliot is a freelance science editor and reporter for CBS News. She holds an M.A. in science and health journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland. Follow her on Twitter - @daniellelliot.

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