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Pets in ancient egypt
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anneke
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 1:04 am    Post subject: Pets in ancient egypt Reply with quote

I noticed this quote about finds in Saqqara:
Quote:
Our anthropologist Ladislava Horácková has come to the conclusion that the robbers’ dump from the tomb of the Tias contained the bones of no less than about 40 persons, plus the remains of at least four pet monkeys, a carnivorous animal, and a few cattle bones (the latter perhaps food for the deceased)


I have seen images in tombs of pets like monkeys, gazelles, cats, dogs, etc.

I was wondering if they were only pets or if their images also held some symbolic value?
I have seen pet monkeys usually depicted as tied so they sit underneath the chair of the owner (often a woman). I also saw one image on a bowl where a musician had a monkey tied to her waist (via a leash).

I saw a dog lying beside her mistress. I think one of Nefertiti's daughter's is depicted with a pet gazelle.

Any double meanings for these animals?
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Meritaten
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wasn't it a depiction of one of the younger princesses with a gazelle at the Year 12 celebrations, Anneke? I think secondary wives wore gazelle crowns at that time, too?
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anneke
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you may be right about the year 12 depiction. I just remebered that one of the princesses had a pet gazelle, but not where it was shown. Now I'll have to look at the books I have to see if I can find a picture of it.

I had forgotten about the crowns of secondary wives. Are you referring to the crown of one of the Syrian princesses from the time of Thutmosis III? Their names something like Menwi, Menhet and Merti.

I think this may be it:


Maybe it represents something playful and sweet? Maybe characteristics they would have liked in a wife?
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Meritaten
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's gorgeous! I remember a couple of references to them but no actual images - I thought the idea sounded rather lovely, but that piece is even more attractive than a gazelle diadem sounds!

I'll see if I can dig up the notation on what examples have been found or have been depicted. Gazelles certainly convey an idea of grace and liveliness.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually realized later that this diadem was found in the Delta, and may be dated to the Hyksos period.

But, it is really lovely isn't it? Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's one of those myths that wealthy Egyptians killed their pets and had them mummified so they could take them into the Afterlife. Well, it's partly a myth. On most of these mummified pets there's no evidence of trauma or other indications that the animals were deliberately killed. It seems such animals were allowed to live out their natural lives, and then were mummified. Some even rated their own tombs.

There's a famous mummy of a dog from one of the royal Theban tombs. I tried to find a decent internet photo of it but all I could come up with was a photo of it on this site. See the second animal photo from the top. In better photographs, you'd swear this dog is about to run or jump or bark or lift a hind leg to take care of business. It's amazingly well preserved. And there's also the famous photo of the mummified dog and baboon in one tomb, arranged by the burial party so that they are looking into each other's faces. A famous photo, yes--I have it in many of my books--but I couldn't find one of it on the net.

Gazelles were another common pet. They were also considered revered by both Hathor and Isis, so to keep and care for one was to show respect for these goddesses. We have a mummified gazelle in our collection. It was very young when it died, and you can see its little antlers poking out the wrappings of the back of the head.
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never knew about the divine connections of gazelles mentioned above. That's cool...it seems the Egyptians had really exotic pets-monkeys, gazelles...
Of course, the most famous of all Egyptian pets, or animals even is the cat. And the cat was sacred to Bastet, I could tell you a lot about how much the Egyptians revered cats-like if their house was on fire they would save the cat above all else (well, after the other people who would be trapped in the fire), and how killing a cat was punishable by death, and when a cat died the family would shave their eyebrows off as a sign of mourning.
I saw on this programme about cats that the reason the Egyptians domesticated and revered the cat was because of it's ability to kill mice and other vermin.

I don't think animals were killed for the sake of mummification-that's just our modern 'Egyptians were death obsessed' views getting in they way. I think animals had as much right as humans to have a good life. And as i said before, it was a crime punishable by death to kill a cat so i doubt that they would have been deliberately killed.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the other hand there's the find in Saqqara of many cat mummies, and they seem to have had their necks snapped. So they were definitely killed.
Maybe there were different practices in different times?

It may also be that these cats were never pets, but were associated with a temple and were sacrifices to the goddess Bastet. Maybe a sacrifice was not considered a "killing". I'm just guessing here.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
There's a famous mummy of a dog from one of the royal Theban tombs. I tried to find a decent internet photo of it but all I could come up with was this photo of it .


Was that dog found in KV55? It looks familiar.

The British Museum has this mummy of a dog click here for link
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just realized that this page from the British Museum tallks about animal mummies.

They had this to say:
Quote:
Animal burials are found at all periods, but the systematic production of animal mummies for sale and subsequent burial as votive objects began in earnest in the Late Period (661-332 BC), and continued into Roman times. Vast catacombs of animal mummies have been found in various places; the creatures were clearly bred for the purpose and X-rays of examples now in museum collections show that some were deliberately killed.



Somehow this also reminds me of the story of Maatkare-Mutemhet.
She was the God's Wife of Amen during the 21st dynasty.
She was buried together with a smaller mummy, and for a while people thought this was her baby. This would have been quite a scandal, because at that point in history the God's Wife was supposed to be celibate.
The mummy id described
Answers the question about breeding animals for the purpose of turning them into mummies (in later times).here

It later turned out that there was no scandal at all. The smaller mummy was of a small baboon!

Quote:
A small, neatly wrapped mummy was found in the coffins with the High Priestess (see photo from RM, pl. LXXIV.) Since Smith had observed that Maatkare's breasts were enlarge as though she had been lactating, he concluded that she had died in childbirth, and assumed that the small mummy was that of her child and (as had Maspero earlier) mistakenly believed that the name "Mutemhet," which appeared on Maatkare's coffin, designated this child. Later, it was discovered that the name "Mutemhet" was a name of Maatkare herself. Harris and Weeks also affirm that Maatkare died in childbirth, and add that the embalmers had packed her abdomen in a way calculated to emphasize that fact. However, their x-rays revealed that the tiny mummy is not a human child, but a female hamadryas baboon (see photo from XRP, 53), perhaps included with Maatkare for ritual purposes (see my article for more on the possible ritual significance of the baboon.) Not all Egyptologists agree that Maatkare died in childbirth. Salima Ikram and Aidan Dodson point out that her mummy's "pregnant" appearance could have resulted unintentionally from the slow "swelling" of the embalming materials. The 1987 edition of the Official Catalogue: The Egyptian Museum, Cairo also disputes the theory that Maatkare died while giving birth.


The man who maintains above website, William Max Miller, has an article about Maatkare :
http://www.geocities.com/anubis4_2000/egyptpages/maatkare.htm

About the baboon's possible significance he says:
Quote:
Maatkare's position identified her with Amen-Re's wife, the goddess Mut. According to Egyptian mythology, Mut bore Amen a son named Khons, who was a god of the moon. Khons' lunar association related him closely to the god Thoth, and, like Thoth, he was sometimes depicted in the form of a baboon. Since Khons was symbolically the son of Maatkare in her ritual role as Amen-Re's wife, it seems fitting that she be given a baboon as a surrogate child to keep her company in the Underworld.

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Last edited by anneke on Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you sure the cat mummies didn't have their necks accidentally snapped after death? It seems to contradict the capital punishment for cat killing I mentioned.

When was this? If it was in Greek times, maybe it could represent a change in the beliefs of the Egyptians? I saw a programme that said that animals that were mummified were not killed deliberately until the later times, round about the greek period, when these mummies were 'mass produced' quickly and sometimes shoddily-some animal mummies are just made of planks of wood and sawdust (I think) and contain no animal remains at all...
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, I was editing a post (to add some stuff). That's why my comment on that was not visible I think Smile

It seems that the mummies with the snapped necks were from a later period.
It may well have been a change in practice.
From what I have read there are way too many animals with damage to the neck to have it be accidental.

There's a post right above your last one that has some info from the British Museum on this.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

isisinacrisis wrote:
Quote:
Are you sure the cat mummies didn't have their necks accidentally snapped after death? It seems to contradict the capital punishment for cat killing I mentioned.


This plethora of cat mummies was an evolutionary step, you might say. Early on, in a temple dedicated to Bastet or Sekhmet, for instance, there would be a single cat that represented the Ba of that deity, in the same way that the Apis bull stood for the Ba of Ptah. This cat would be pampered and treated as a goddess--a lifestyle of which any cat, ancient or modern, would surely approve. When the cat died (and a natural death it would be), it was given full burial honors, including mummification.

As anneke noted in her quote, the practice got out of hand by the Late Period. This was when temple priests raised and kept many, many cats in pens so that the people could come and present some form of payment to have one mummified as a present to Bastet or Sekhmet, in the hopes of procuring help from the deity. This is what is meant by a "votive" animal mummy--much as people light candles in church today, and leave some money in the coin box for the church. It became a useful form of revenue for the temple and its priests, and quite possibly demand sometimes outstripped supply, which is why numerous cat mummies are found to contain not kitties but mud, straw, and sticks.

As many cats as were mummified, by the way, it is actually the falcon that was the most commonly mummified animal in Egypt. Not surprising, though, given that it represented Horus.

Quote:
I could tell you a lot about how much the Egyptians revered cats...and how killing a cat was punishable by death


This proscription was probably not in effect 365 days a year, and certainly not throughout the entire dynastic period for any animal, including cats. Such laws were enacted by the whims of whichever pharaoh occupied the throne. Most commonly these kinds of laws were in force during the holy days of a given deity. During the festival days of Bastet, for example, Ramesses IV forbade the hunting of lions. His edict doesn't say anything specific about domestic (pet) cats, but lions--a favorite game animal of the royals and wealthy through much of the dynastic period.

I seriously doubt anyone would actually be killed for killing even a lion during such a holy day. We tend too often to think of execution as the punishment exacted for everything. Most people were not executed for their crimes, unless the crime was truly horrific (tomb robbing, plotting against the king, watering down the king's beer Very Happy ). Much more common punishments involved flogging and the confiscation of property.

anneke wrote:
Quote:
Was that dog found in KV55? It looks familiar.


What I've read is that particular dog came from KV50. What I didn't realize until doing some reading last night was that this remarkably well-preserved dog is the very same as that found staring into the face of the baboon mummy! I've never seen it out of context, so pardon my clumsiness. There are several little tombs in that vicinity that contain only animals, and they are thought to have been pets of Amunhotep II, I believe.

I enjoyed your link to the other dog mummy, by the way. Of all the animal mummies we have in our exhibit, not one of them is a dog. I was recently talking with a dog lover at our museum who informed me that the same species of dog favored so much by pharaohs (the one in the photo from the link I provided last night) is still very popular today. I know next to nothing about dogs and cannot remember the name of this species. This guy has one of those dogs himself and adores it.
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Meritaten
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ibis Mummy!

We have plaques of Sacred Ibises around Sydney - they're almost a pest species. Try to eat in one of our parks and you might get stalked by one of these babies. Every time I see them I think of their Egyptian connections and the ibis mummies.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ibises were another commonly mummified animal, and another one the temple priests worked on in Saqqara (like the cats). The ibis was, of course, sacred to Thoth (Djehuty to the Egyptians). It is said the Greeks living in nearby Memphis were much offended by the stench of the countless ibis mummies wafting over from the Saqqara necropolis.
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