What are some ancient Egyptian animal breeds

Old EgyptAnimal mummies: With the domestic animal ins Beyond

Embalmed dogs and cats have been found frequently in ancient Egyptian tombs. Animal mummies of falcons, crocodiles, monkeys and mice, which were killed to be buried in grave diggers, are also not uncommon.

Our animal expert Mario Ludwig explains that many Egyptian deities were depicted with an animal head because the ancient Egyptians assigned them the characteristics of a certain animal. For example, Thoth, the god of scribes, had an ibis head, the god of death Anubis had a dog's head. Bastet, the goddess of fertility and love, is depicted with a cat's head, and the sky god Horus with that of a falcon.

In order to make these deities benevolent, the corresponding animals were sacrificed in the temples and then embalmed. The animal mummies served as grave goods.

"In the late period of high Egyptian civilization, the sacrifice or mummification of animals mutated into a downright mass madness."

In the late period of high Egyptian civilization, it was common practice to sacrifice and mummify animals. For example, scientists have found a mass grave with well over a million mummified dogs in Saqqara, an important ancient Egyptian necropolis on the western bank of the Nile. Egyptologists believe that the dogs were bred for this purpose only.

The ancient Egyptians took beloved pets with them to death

The people in ancient Egypt are considered to be fond of animals, says the Deutschlandfunk-Nova animal expert Mario Ludwig: They often kept pets and probably also looked after them well. Scientists assume this because there were veterinarians in ancient Egypt.

Most popular pets were cats, but dogs and monkeys were also kept. And because the ancient Egyptians did not want to do without their beloved pets even after their death, many people had dogs, cats or monkeys killed and then laid mummified in the grave in order to take them with them to the afterlife.

"The ancient Egyptians were extremely fond of animals and very often kept pets, which they also looked after very well."

Mummified mice have also been found in graves. Mario Ludwig gives two possible reasons for this: On the one hand, shrews, as shown in ancient Egyptian texts, were worshiped as holy and belonging to the gods Horus and Uto. Why this is so has not yet been clearly clarified, says the biologist. On the other hand, mummies of shrews were often found together with cat mummies or falcon mummies. Researchers therefore assume that the mice should serve as food for these two animal species in the afterlife.

Animals embalmed just as lavishly as pharaohs

In some cases animals were embalmed as lavishly as pharaohs. A process that probably took around 70 days. The exterior of the animal mummies was also often designed very artistically. The linen bandages were wrapped around the animal carcass to create a pattern. Some animal mummies were found in gold-plated or beaded sarcophagi.

In many cases the animals were not mummified quite as elaborately - similar to destitute people - before they were placed in a grave, they were first buried in the hot desert sand. All fluids were withdrawn from the body in order to preserve the corpse or the animal carcass.