The sacred animal necropolis came up in lecture this morning, and that happens to be what I’m interested in for my final paper. In case anyone else found that subject intriguing, I thought I’d share the site of archaeologist Paul T. Nicholson who is currently involved in digs at the necropolis in Saqqara.
Many of the animal catacombs were actually discovered because archaeologist W. B. Emery was looking for Imhotep’s tomb in Saqqara in the 1960s. More recently, at the entrance to the falcon catacomb, the team found a cache of votive bronzes that they have been working to conserve since the find in the 1990s. Current work at Saqqara under Nicholson has focused on dog catacombs associated with the temple of Anubis. The current goals for the excavation involve examining the bones of the canines, which is a newer area of interest at the animal necropolis. Also, because past notes about the site are faulty and incomplete, a complete survey of the catacombs is underway.
In class today, we came back to the issue of early Europeans and how they treated Ancient Egyptian sites. I’m biased because I think that animal mummification and the cults they were associated with are fascinating. It seems like a real loss to me that these mummies are spread so far and wide because they were so popular as souvenirs for European tourists. I’m curious what other people think about the issue. Is it a great loss that these mummies were removed in large numbers from the sites? How does it compare to the loss of royal mummies and the treasures from their tombs? Are we still more focused on the riches of pharaohs, and is that justifiable? I know that any losses from ancient sites mean a loss of information that might be really groundbreaking or illuminating. Is there even a way to gauge the potential that lost artifacts might have had?