Animals in Ancient Egypt
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The relationship between the ancient Egyptians and the animal kingdom
She was close and intense ! Not only were the pharaohs themselves compared with animals that were considered to possess certain characteristics, such as the lion, symbol of strength and majesty, but their deities were represented as human beings with heads or some features of animals, such as Horus, god of the morning sun, represented with the head of a hawk, so this bird was considered his living incarnation.
Dogs and cats were already presented, apart from as hunters of prey and mice, as pets. Mummifications of these two types of pets have been found buried with their owners.
The Egyptians were the first breeders of dogs.
This activity focused especially on four breeds: the Dalmatian Greyhound, of Nubian origin, a type of dingo, a molosser and a type of guard dog. The dogs were related to the deceased, possibly because of their habit of wandering through cemeteries at night. In the city of Abydos, a deity called Khentementin, represented by a dog, was worshipped.
Cats were sacred animals, so much so that in struggles with the Persians, the Egyptians surrendered if their adversaries carried them on their shields. In ancient Egypt the cat had no name, but was named by its onomatopoeia Miw. It was forbidden to kill them and to take them out of the country.
If they fell ill they were given the same care as the children, and after their death the owners dressed in mourning. It was normal to mummify them and bury them, either with their owners or in a cat cemetery.
The largest was in the city of Bubastis, which means "Bastet's Mansion". The cat goddess Bastet, main divinity during the XXII dynasty was the protector of the family and the home, patron saint of pleasure, femininity, joy, music and dance.
Meat was part of the Egyptian diet. Apart from herds of goats, lambs or herds of pigs, wild animals such as antelopes, gazelles, deer, wild goats, oryx, buffaloes, ibexes, royal herons or even hyenas were bred in captivity.
Monkeys, dogs and cats were used in different games. Donkeys, donkeys and oxen were used for transport. The best hunters were the dogs, also sometimes taken to war with the horses.
While some species of birds, such as quail, were in the wild and were trapped with nets and traps, others developed in the domestic environment, such as ducks, geese, geese, doves and turtledoves, to which the roosters would later be added, it is doubtful whether in the Persian Period or in the Ptolemaic.
Fishing was practiced with nets and harpoons. However, there is no indication that the Egyptians came to conserve or raise fish in captivity.
Because of their wild and dangerous nature, the Egyptians feared a large number of animals. Because of their proximity, the hippos and crocodiles should be mentioned, as well as the big cats: lions, panthers, jackals... And, without a doubt, the treacherous snakes, such as boas, pythons, snakes or cobras. Not forgetting, of course, insect pests.
Wolves, lynxes, cheetahs, mongooses, mandrels, deer, hares, mice, bats, chameleons, snakes, urchins, ostriches, vultures, hawks, kites, owls, ducks, swallows, sparrows, Egyptian vultures, lapwings, shrews, lizards, frogs or turtles, complement the broad spectrum of fauna present in ancient Egypt.