Animal Mummification

Since there seems to be a number of us in this class interested in mortuary practices of Ancient Egypt, I have decided to touch on a subject that I find interesting which is the mummification of animals. Throughout the history of Ancient Egypt, animals were highly respected. Compared to other cultures, both past and present, I believe that the Egyptians were most influenced by animals and depicted them most in their art. Animals were important not just as house pets, but also for many different religious purposes.

In Ancient Egyptian culture, animals were important for both physical and spiritual survival. Physical because they can be used as food, and spiritual because of how it will affect their own personal afterlife. In order to get into the afterlife, the Egyptian Gods would ask a series of judgment questions and one popular question was whether or not you mistreated animals during our life on Earth. Sometimes animal meat is wrapped in linens to put with a human mummy in a tomb. The animal was not wrapped as meticulously as to show it was food and not a pet.

Since Egyptians were polytheistic, sometimes Gods would manifest on the Earth as an animal as we learned in class about the bull god Apis. This is another way that the Ancient Egyptians worshipped animals. When they believed the animal was a manifestation of a particular God, they would mummify it more meticulously and even get a lavish bronze or wooden coffin for the animal. A last way that the Egyptians used animal mummification was to make religious offerings to a particular God. Cats were mummified as religious offerings in enormous quantities and were believed to represent the war Goddess Bastet while Ibises (a type of bird) were mummified for the God of Wisdom, Thoth. Other animals that have been mummified include, baboons, fish, snakes, crocodiles, and beetles.

As seen here, https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/animal_mummies/touring.php, there is an exhibit touring the US and includes a large collection of animal mummies that have been excavated. If you are interested, below I have posted some images of animal mummies.

Egypt_Hawk_Mummy_Coffin

Egypt_Crocodile_Mummy_Coffin

Epgyptian_Cat_Mummy_Coffin

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One thought on “Animal Mummification

  1. Your post was very interesting. I find it fascinating that the Ancient Egyptians mummified animals, as it seems like it would take up a lot of time and work. The distinctions between what was food and what was a pet in the mummification process is also interesting. I did not know that not mistreating animals was a prerequisite for getting into the afterlife in Ancient Egypt. This demonstrates the importance and significance placed on animals in Egypt at this time. Because animals provided sustenance to the Egyptians, it only makes sense that they were treated with much respect. When most people think of animals in Egypt they probably think of cats so I am glad you included discussions of the mummification of other animals in your blog post.

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