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A mummified cat Cats were mummified as religious offerings in enormous quantities and were believed to represent the war goddess Bastet. At Beni Hasan, there were so many cat mummies that at the end of the 19th century, a total of 19 tons of mummified Egyptian cats were shipped to England to be used as fertilizer.

In addition, thousands of cat mummies have been found at the catacombs of Saqqara. Cats who were bred to become offerings of this type usually died due to strangulation or the breaking of their necks.

During mummification, the cat bodies would be dried and filled with soil, sand or some other kind of packing material. They were either positioned with their limbs folded closely to their bodies or in a sitting, lifelike position. The wrapping was usually completed through intricate, geometric patterns.

Early in the development of animal mummification, cat mummies were placed in little bronze or wooden sarcophagi. More expensive mummies were typically adorned with features drawn in black paint and colored glass, obsidian or rock crystal eyes.

Kittens and fetuses were mummified and buried inside the stomach of a statue that represented their mother. As time went by, like all mummies designed for this purpose, the mummification became less precise. In fact, Sir T. Morrison-Scott , former Director of the British Museum of Natural History , unwrapped a large number of cat mummies, but discovered many were simply stuffed with random body parts of cats and not mummified with detailed care.

Saqqara alone is estimated to contain nearly , of these mummies and is also thought to have produced 10, mummified offerings per year. In addition, approximately four million ibis burials have been uncovered at the catacombs of Tune el-Gebel.

Mummification of the ibis included desiccation and evisceration. Usually, the head and neck of the bird were bent backwards and pressed on the body. The body was then dipped in tar and wrapped tightly with linen. The vast number of mummified ibises suggests that this was done in a mass production, as many times the mummies contained only a part of the body.

After serving their ritual purposes, the mummified bodies were placed in ceramic pots, coffins or sarcophagi. Baboons[ edit ] This coffin, shaped like a baboon, once contained the remains of a baboon as an offering to the god Thoth. Walters Art Museum , Baltimore. Baboons also represented Thoth , the god of the moon as well as the god of wisdom.

Baboons were reared in mass quantities at temples, though the numbers of baboon mummies that have been discovered are not as large as cats or ibises. Around were uncovered at the tombs of Saqqara. Most baboons were mummified with the use of plaster and buried in wooden chests. Baboon mummies that have been discovered have provided significant evidence that they were bred and mummified as offerings.

This evidence includes proof that the baboons usually did not die from natural causes, and that the majority suffered from malnutrition, fractures, osteomylitis , and vitamin D deficiency. Crocodiles[ edit ] The crocodile was regarded as an extremely fierce animal, often used to terrify enemies during war. The crocodile cult was devoted to Sebek , god of fertility, and the sun god, Re. Typically, crocodiles were raised in a life of complete luxury, indulged until they died.

In the early years of this cult, dead crocodiles were lavishly mummified with gold and other precious things. However, as mummification gradually became a production process, less effort was exerted in their mummification and eventually consisted simply of cloth wrappings and the application of resin, a preserving agent. When found in extremely large quantities, crocodile mummies, like many other sorts of animal offerings, contained only reeds or random body parts.

At the main temple of Shedet, later called Crocodilopolis, sacred crocodiles were mummified and displayed in temple shrines or carried in processions. They were wrapped in linen and held together by bands of cloth soaked in sticky resin, permanently encasing the mummies.

Many times, black circles representing the eyes were painted on the hardened linen. Several species of fish have been identified, but due to the deteriorating condition of the mummies, scientists are unable to conclude if the organs were typically removed during the process of mummification.

According to the Museum of Liverpool the Nile perch was one of the species mummified and offered to the gods on of these cults is related to The goddess Neith. Revered for its ability to kill snakes, the ichneumon was related to Horus and Atum, among others and worshipped throughout the country.

The shrew, a mouse size nocturnal mammal, substituted for ichneumons in Egyptian myth. Believed to have vision in both light and darkness, the god Horus Khenty-irty of Letopolis was represented by the wide eyed type of ichneumon and the shrew respectively. Shrews appear as the focus of worship particularly in the Late Period. Several dog breeds could be found in ancient Egypt, the most popular being the greyhound, basenji, and saluki, all very good for hunting.

From the First Dynasty, Egyptians venerated several jackal deities, with the most prominent one was of Anubis. He was represented as a canine or a canine headed human.

Traditionally, the Anubis animal has been identified as a jackal, but its generally black coloring, symbolic of the afterlife and rebirth, is not typical of jackals and may instead denote a wild dog. Serpents were seen as creatures of the earth that embody primeval, chthonic qualities, involved in the process of creation.

Because many snakes inhabit marshes, they were closely linked to water and the primeval ocean of Nun. Texts like the Brooklyn Papyrus include remedies and magical spells to cure the bitten. Snake deities were worshipped in hopes of preventing potential attacks by their earthly representatives.

Commonly mummified in the Late, Ptolemaic, and Roman periods, lizards did not play much of a role in earlier culture. Images of scarabs were placed in tombs as early as the fourth millennium BCE and used as official seals and amulets for the living and the dead.

The Egyptian word for scarab also means "to come into being" or "appear". A scarab pushing a spherical object evoked the image of a beetle propelling the sun disk through heaven. Each sacred animal was pampered and cared for until its death, when elaborate burial proceedings took place. The animal was then mummified as a sign of respect to the god. Next, a new symbolic animal was chosen. Only one animal at a time would be chosen as the sacred one.

These animal cults reached the pinnacle of popularity during the Late and Graeco-Roman Periods. The cycle of selecting a new totem animal continued for hundreds of years. Though the animals were undoubtedly considered sacred, Egyptians did not worship the individual animals themselves, but rather the invisible deity believed to be present within the animal symbolizing the deity.

In certain cases, such as the Apis bull, the animal could even be a way to communicate the desires of the god. The Apis bull cult was the main source of this type of religious animal mummy in ancient Egypt, as most other animals were mummified in large quantities for religious offerings. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources.

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. July Learn how and when to remove this template message The Apis bull cult is estimated to have originated as early as B. The earliest and largest of all animal cults, the Apis bull cult considered the bull to be a symbol of strength and fertility, representing the creator gods Ptah and Osiris.

Mummification was a key part in the worshipping of these animals. While alive, the bull would be housed in a special temple, lavishly pampered for its entire life. Priests believed that the Apis bull was a medium of communication between the two creator gods, so its movements were carefully observed and sometimes consulted as an oracle. These sacred animals were allowed to die a natural death unless they reached the age of 28, at which time they were killed.

When an Apis bull died, the entire country went into mourning. It was afforded an elaborate funeral and intricate burial procedures. Because the bulls were so large, the process of mummification was lengthy and complicated. Enormous alabaster embalming tables were constructed at Memphis , the center of the cult. They were complete with engravings and fluid drainage channels. After the funerary ceremonies, the bull would be transported to these tables where it would be strapped to the table.

Its internal organs would be destroyed through intra-anal oils. It would then be wrapped in linens. Artificial eyes and an artistic plaster head would be added, ensuring the bull still looked like itself. Differences between human and non-human animal mummification[ edit ] The distinguishing factor between the process of non-human animal and human mummification is when the two types were mummified. Humans had been mummified consistently since the days of the early conquerors of Lower Egypt , hundreds of years before even the first non-human animal was mummified.

The earliest signs of non-human animal mummies are dated to the Badarian Predynastic Period BC after the unification of upper and lower Egypt. In general, the mummifying of animals was not given the careful attention afforded to humans. Mummies sold to pilgrims as offerings were only minimally treated, and unlike humans, even the most sacred of animals, such as the Apis bulls, did not have their internal organs preserved.

The large scale of production indicates that relatively little care and expense was involved in animal preparation compared to human mummies. However, recent radiological studies by archeologists indicate that animal mummification may more closely follow human mummification than was originally thought.

However, as with human mummification there was a range in terms of the quality of treatments. A simple visual analysis of the mummies suggests that some animal mummies were treated with the same complexity as those of humans. Egyptians treated animals with great respect, regarding them both as domestic pets and representatives of the gods. The presence of fats, oils, beeswax, sugar gum, petroleum bitumen, and coniferous cedar resins in animal mummies shows that the chemicals used to embalm animals were similar to those used on humans.

The Egyptian Way of Death. The Scientific Study of Mummies. Cambridge University Press, A History of Egyptian Mummies. Princeton University Press, Mummies and Death in Egypt.


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