Cats in ancient egypt

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Cats in ancient egypt

It was not until the Pre-dynastic Period that they were domesticated—interestingly, much later than dogs—yet their prominence in Egyptian culture remains highly identifiable even today. As a feline goddess, she was associated with protecting against venomous bites especially those of snakes and scorpions probably due to the fact that cats are killers of snakes and scorpions.

A similar female deity with the body of a woman and the head of a cat, Bastet was considered a personification of the sun herself, with her chief shrine at the site Cats in ancient egypt Bubastis in Egypt.

A late period bronze cat in the form of the goddess Bastet. Jewelry is ancient but not necessarily original to this piece. The cat caught the snake in the act of attempting to strangle the tree, and cut off its head for its crimes.

Bastet and Mafdet are often interchanged as the jungle cat heroine. Bastet, however, was eventually similarly displaced. Toward the beginning of the 3 rd millennium, Bastet was associated with all cats and each feline was considered a physical representation of her spirit.

Over time, however, the gods once again shifted and altered, often a result royal personal preference.

It should be noted that there were other gods associated with cats, such as Neith and Mut, but Bastet and Sekhmet were the two foremost deities. Wikimedia Commons In the mortal realm, humans and cats lived and worked in harmony.

Cats were a perfect solution to the overwhelming rat and snake problems of ancient Egypt, and in exchange, humans would protect those same cats from other predators who might deign to feast on a feline for dinner especially now that rats were no longer an option.

It was in this way that cats began to become domesticated—the humans would coax them to their homes to fetter out the vermin by offering the cats food. From there, it was a short step to invite the creatures to move in for safe keeping and constant pest purging. Ancient Egyptian relief in Edfu Temple Wikimedia Commons These cats, however, were not as cats appear today—at least not at first.

In ancient Egypt, there were two different primary breeds: As time went on and the two species merged, as well as both cats became accustomed to softer, human food, the species grew to become sleeker, less muscled, and much more tolerant.

There are records that they might have been akin to demi-gods, but they were primarily thought of as bodily representations of the feline gods. Because of this, cats were protected for reasons beyond just their vermin-killing capabilities. To harm a cat was to attempt harm to a god, and that was entirely out of the question in ancient Egypt.

Killing a cat was punishable by death a certain period of Egyptian history, whether intentional or not. Diodorus, one of the most well-read historians from the ancient world, records an incident in which a Roman accidentally slaughtered a cat, and he suffered the same punishment as the people of Egypt would.

As a revered animal, some cats also received the same mummification after death as humans. Cats were sometimes mummified as beloved pets, perhaps in the hope that they could join their owners in the next life. However, the majority were mummified for religious reasons unconnected with human burial, and were made as offerings in the hope of receiving the favor of the god or goddess they represented.

Egyptian Cat Mummy Photo

Inan Egyptian farmer uncovered a large tomb containing more than eighty thousand mummified cats and kittens outside the town of Beni Hasan. Since then, many more cat cemeteries have been found.

However, the majority of them were plundered before archaeologists could work on them: A mummified cat Wikimedia Commons Cats remain one of the most prominent symbols of ancient Egyptian culture.

Cats in ancient egypt

They are recognized as emblems of Egyptian society and the face of their ancient world, even if nothing else of their cult is remembered today.

The Sphinx is an overwhelming example of this. Just as the ancient cats themselves were mummified to maintain their status and integrity after death, their worship was equally well preserved. A priestess offers gifts of food and milk to the spirit of a cat. Wikimedia Commons References Herodotus.

Histories Volume 1 Oxford University Press: Matthews, John and Caitlin. Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures: Library of History, Volume I, Books Welcome to the Temple of Bastet. The Ancient Egyptians held cats in the highest esteem, the penalties for injuring or killing a cat were severe.

Ancient Egyptians Discover the history of Egypt and all about the lives of the Ancient Egyptians. The aim of this Ancient Egyptians site is to provides facts and information about the ancient Egyptians to enable kids and students to gain an easy understanding of the civilisation, culture in ancient Egypt and the lives of the ancient Egyptians.

Ancient Egypt, civilization in northeastern Africa that dates from the 4th millennium many achievements, preserved in its art and monuments, hold a fascination that continues to grow as archaeological finds expose its secrets. Welcome to the Temple of Bastet. The Ancient Egyptians held cats in the highest esteem, the penalties for injuring or killing a cat were severe.

The domestication of cats dates back to BCE in Egypt. People would find the cats as kittens in the wild and then domesticate them. It is believed that the first domesticated cat was originally a Jungle Cat known in the area as a swamp cat or an African Wildcat. Cats in ancient Egypt were mummified and buried in large quantities, hence held a special place in the culture of Ancient iridis-photo-restoration.coml deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads such as Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power.

The deity Mut has also been depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat.. Cats were praised for killing poisonous snakes.

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