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Animal Mummification

Emma Spike-Neaman History-7˚ March 1st, 2013 Egypt Research

We all know how deep and rich 3,000 years of the ancient Egyptian civilization was. One thing that fascinated me was the interesting mummification of animals. We all know how the ancient people of Egypt were mummified but what about animals. At first, archeologists believed that animals were mummified in a sort of slip-shod fashion but recent studies show that in fact animals were mummified in the same way as humans. Some questions I had were: why did they mummify animals, who mummified them, what kinds of animals were mummified, and how were they mummified. In the old and middle kingdom, animal mummification served the purposes of honoring a god or goddess and personal reasons like wanting to be buried with your pet. In the new kingdom though, it became a real industry. Animals were mummified by the millions and sold to tourists or even just the locals. Late in the New Kingdom period, animals were starting to become extinct and if you wanted the whole body of any animal, you would have to pay a lot of money. If you wanted the cheaper version, you would only get a few feathers or a couple of bones. At curtain cults, curtain animals were worshipped and mummified. For example Bulls at Armant and Heliopolis and fish at Esna. Rams were worshipped at Elephantine Island, crocodiles at Kom Ombo, and cats at Bubastis and so on. The ancient Egyptians believed that specific animals were incarnations of specific gods and goddesses. For example: cats were seen as the incarnation of Bastet and bulls were seen as Osirus. Hawks were seen as Horus, Ibises as Thoth and crocodiles as Sobek. Some animals became extinct in the late new kingdom period. So at some cults, people built fake mummies to honor their god or goddess. This shows just how much the ancient Egyptians were devoted to their cult’s god or goddess. Now you may wonder ‘what is the relationship between these gods and goddesses and the animals.’ Some animals represented gods and goddesses. Like Bastet was the cat-headed goddess and Sobek was the crocodile headed god. The ancient Egyptians lived with these animals so it was natural to honor them and name gods and goddesses after them. The priests of the time usually mummified them. They used canopic jars to store the organs of the animal and placed magical spells over it to ensure peace in the after life.

Animal mummification was a broad topic but it wasn’t too broad for this essay. I was originally going to do a report on Pharaoh Hatshepsut but this topic was far too broad. Then I had heard about some of the things that other kids were doing. One said “Mummification”. I thought that was also to broad for me but animal mummification was not. I decided to go with that and I don’t regret it. It was very difficult finding reliable websites but I did find a few that were and I used those. I feel like I really learned something that you normally wouldn’t learn about. I’m very happy that I chose this because it was a wonderful learning opportunity.

BIBLIOGRAPHY James, Owen. "Egyptian Animals Were Mummified Same Way as Humans." Daily Nature and Science News and Headlines | National Geographic News . National Geographic, 15 Sept. 2004. Web. 5 Feb. 2013. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news Jane, O'brien. "BBC News - Ancient Egyptian animal mummies in new Smithsonian exhibit." BBC - Homepage. Creative archive, 17 Nov. 2011. Web. 5 Feb. 2013. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15778012>. Williams, A. R.. "Animal Mummies — National Geographic Magazine ." National Geographic Magazine. National Geographic, 1 Nov. 2009. Web. 5 Feb. 2013. <http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/11/animal-mummies/williams-text/1>.