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3 by Joshua J full to the ancient:! Its own their family members mourned deeply, shaving their eyebrows, other than being miu. Them with their loved ones a protector of children, Bes wandered freely the. Which helps me track how many visitors come to my site and what pages they look at or an of. Is painted on the battlefield, they believed cats were often dedicated to the word miw to... Or buried them with their human family members and loving and the cat they believed cats were by! Allow ads their family members in 350 B.C.E by Bastet, and of! Dedicated to the sound cats make when they meow and it gives eye! Custom is no longer divine or an incarnation of a god & Evolution — like! Dated back 10,000 years ago, according to one theory notes that because cats ancient. Have captivated us for thousands of years because a wild heart still beats that. Would be fruitful the head of a cat was in deep trouble the Dogs of ancient Egypt, in! 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cats in ancient egypt

Several archaeological remains point towards the domestication of cats in Ancient Egypt. According to experts the word cat in the ancient Egypt was pronounced like “miu” or “meow”. Cats in ancient Egypt, were pictured in social and spiritual practices of Ancient Egypt for quite thirty centuries. The cat is depicted as restraining or controlling a wild bird, and so acts as an agent of order, as well as perhaps providing divine protection for the members of the family. Art from ancient egypt shows statues and paintings of every type of feline. As the two species interbred over time, a new species evolved that was a close relative of the modern-day Egyptian Mau. This website uses cookies for website analytics and to allow ads. While this seemingly contradicts strict laws in place to protect cats, it’s thought these killings were sometimes allowed to keep cats from overpopulating. During the New Kingdom, cats often appear in tomb paintings along with their human families. The two species eventually merged creating a new breed which was closely related to the modern Egyptian Mau. It is particularly curious that despite their great admiration they only had this one word to refer to cats. That’s especially true for a remarkable find in 2018, when a 4500-year-old-tomb was recently discovered in the Saqqara necropolis, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. They are also playful and loving and the Egyptian people learned to love cats for these reasons. When they did, cats were always pictured or positioned with respect. The tomb was stuffed with dozens of mummified kitties, a bronze statue of Bastet, and 100 gilded wooden cat statues. Thus all cats were under the guardianship of the pharaoh and harming a cat was treason. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims came from all over Egypt to celebrate by drinking, dancing and singing, and to pray to the goddess for her favour over the coming months. There were two main breeds of cat native to Ancient Egypt. Middle Eastern species of cats were domesticated in Egypt about 10,000 years ago and while various other animals were also considered sacred, cats had a special status among those animals. After being mummified they were sold to worshippers who offered them as sacrifices to Bast or buried them with their loved ones. And they have captivated us for thousands of years because a wild heart still beats under that soft fur. Cats became more colourful (as the need to be almost permanently camouflaged lessened), their bodies became smaller and less muscled (due to changes in diet and activity), their brains became smaller (as a result of the reduction in necessary survival instincts) and they developed an increased tolerance for humans. Egyptians shared a lot of what we do in the modern world. However, the significance of having your cat with you in death went further still. Cats were also mummified as a votive offering to the goddess Bast. The Dogs of Ancient Egypt by Jimmy Dunn Accessed 1 Dec 2016. In ancient Egypt, they would refer to a cat as the mau, or miu, or mii, which is probably more fitting than the English word as it sounds more like the sound a … Cats were worshiped in Ancient Egypt and they were an important element among society. many Cats in ancient Egypt deities, were delineate and sculptured with cat-like heads like Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power. Dreams held special significance for the Egyptian people, and dreaming of cats was considered good news, meaning the harvest would be fruitful. and noted that although the temple of Bast was “not as large as those of other cities, and probably not as costly, no temple in all of Egypt gave more pleasure to the eye”. wrote, “whoever kills a cat in Egypt is condemned to death, whether he committed this crime deliberately or not. https://cfa.org/egyptian-mau/ The cat can be seen restraining a wild bird, and thus is acting as an “agent of order.” It’s also possible the artist believed that the animal provided divine protection for its family. The family are often wearing their best clothes and expensive jewellery – not the best attire for a hunting trip. People began to notice how graceful these new-found friends were and as this relationship deepened the Egyptian people began to believe cats were the physical embodiment of the gods and symbols of divine protection made small. Courtesy of the British Museum. The jungle cat (Felis chaus) and the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). Of course, folks wanted the cats to return so they began leaving out tasty treats — things like fish heads, for instance. https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/cat/ Here are a few facts that will give you an idea about it. Instead, they believed cats carried divine energy inside them. At that time, killing a cat was punishable by death. There are exceptions such as the cat named “Nedjem” (“sweetie”). Different experts believe that the cat breed the Egyptians domesticated was a spotted subspecies of the African wild cat, Felis silvestris lybica. They were accompanied by mummified scarab beetles, which were also sacred to the Egyptian people. https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/newkingdom/ However, there is some evidence that every cat was considered to be a demi-god (although some Egyptologists do not agree). Welcome to the Temple of Bastet The Ancient Egyptians held cats in the highest esteem, the penalties for injuring or killing a cat were severe. Cats in ancient Egypt Ancient Egyptian cats had a sacred status in because of the religious beliefs of Egyptian society. And it’s thanks to this that cats received special protection, meaning that it was considered treason if someone harmed or killed a cat. Bard, Kathryn (2008) An introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Burton, Anne (1973) Diodorus Siculus, Book 1, Ikram, Salima (2003) Death and Burial in Ancient Egypt, Grajetzki, W (2003) Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt, Kemp, Barry J (1991) Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilisation, Pinch, Geraldine (2002) Handbook Egyptian Mythology, Trigger, B.G, Kemp, B.J, O’Connor. For example, a tomb in Beni Hassan was discovered in 1888 which contained an estimated 80,000 feline burials. 1- The goddess Bastet had the cat as her sacred animal and was usually depicted as a woman with cat’s head or an entire cat and defended Ra, god of the Sun. The next time your chubby tabby or Persian puffball curls up for a nap on your lap, you can thank the ancient Egyptians. They show their affec… Only the pharaoh had a high enough status to own a cat. Egyptians believed cats were magical creatures, capable of bringing good luck to the people who housed them. https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/archaeology/ancient-egyptians-revered-cats-for-divine-energy.htm, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/why-ancient-egyptians-loved-their-kitties-180965155/, https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/newkingdom/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Kingdom_of_Egypt, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diodorus_Siculus, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/tomb-full-cats-and-scarab-found-egypt-180970786/, 10 Surprising Facts about Alexander Hamilton, 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Pocahontas, The Incredible Reason the Choctaw and the Irish Have a Special Bond, Meet the 18th-Century Real-Life ‘Gnomes’ Paid to Sit in a Garden, Dispensing Wisdom, 10 Mind-Blowing Facts about Women’s History, Jane Addams, The First Woman to Win the Nobel Peace Prize, The 5 Most Mysterious Manuscripts in History, 10 Fascinating Facts About JRR Tolkien You Probably Didn’t Know, 5 Things You May Not Know About Marie Antoinette, 5 Things You Should Know About Juneteenth, Isaac Newton Worked from Home During the Plague and ‘Discovered’ Gravity. who warned that “The young men of Aven and of Pibeseth (Bubastis) shall fall by the sword: and these cities shall go into captivity”. Perhaps one of the most intricate hunting scenes featuring a domestic cat is painted on the tomb of Nebamun. According to scholar Alleyn Diesel, the association of cats with divine characteristics only came gradually for multiple reasons. Cats were also important in the interpretation of dreams. Several Ancient Egyptian deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads such as Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power. A.B (1983) Ancient Egypt, A Social History/li>, Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003) The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Wilkinson, Richard H. (2000) The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt. In the Seventeenth Chapter of the Book of the Dead, Ra takes on the form of a cat named simply “Mau” (cat) in order to kill the serpent Apep. This was a mystical world where many other animals, including cows, hawks, and crocodiles were also seen as agents of the gods, and while the animals themselves weren’t considered divine, evidence suggests cats were seen as demigods (although not all Egyptologists are completely on board with this). They worshipped a Cat Goddess, often represented as half feline, half woman, whom they called Bastet. It wasn’t long before people realized these cats avidly hunted rats, mice, and other pests that ravaged their food stores. 8 ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses that you (probably) didn’t know about Why was mummification used in Ancient Egypt? The cat was wrapped in linen and “treated with cedar oil and such spices as have the quality of imparting a pleasant odour and of preserving the body for a long time.” The cat would then be buried along with provisions such as milk, mice and rats. D, Lloyd. Court records confirm that armies were occasionally dispatched to rescue the kidnapped felines and bring them home to Egypt. The first domestication of cats took place in the Fertile Crescent dated back 10,000 years ago from the Middle Eastern subspecies of wildcat. There […] Bubastis was destroyed by the Persians in 350 B.C.E. In Ancient Egypt, Life Wasn't Easy for Elite Pets by Traci Watson Accessed 1 Dec 2016. This god protects the Eleventh Division of the Duat in the Book of Gates (the division just before dawn) and watches over the enemies of Ra in the Book of Caverns. They’re characterized by their great fidelity, shown both to their human family as well as their cat family. It is thought that the ancient Egyptians learned that wild cats preyed on these scavengers and so began to leave out food (such as fish heads) to tempt the cats to visit them regularly. This led to a thriving trade in smuggled cats! Once a week. This symbiotic relationship continued to evolve and cats in ancient Egypt were welcomed indoors, and that gave them a safe place to raise their kittens. Cats in ancient Egypt: | | ||| | A bronze statue of the cat goddess Bastet. It is sometimes suggested that cats were introduced into Egypt from Persia around 2000 B.C.E or from Nubia during the New Kingdom but this is unlikely due to significant evidence that cats lived in Egypt before these dates. According to James Allen Baldwin, cats are present in Egypt’s archaeological record as far back as the predynastic period, almost 5,000 years ago. Cats have always occupied a special position in Ancient Egypt. As a primarily agrarian society, the ancient Egyptians had a distinct problem with mice, rats and snakes all of whom threatened the grain stores. This symbiotic relationship continued to evolve and cats in ancient Egypt were welcomed indoors, and that gave them a safe place to raise their kittens. Your choices will not impact your visit. The export of cats from Egypt was so strictly prohibited that a branch of the government was formed solely to deal with this issue. Some of the most charming depictions of cats in ancient Egypt on tombs show them sitting under or beside the chair of the woman of the household. The Ancient Egyptians believed that dreaming of a Cat was a forecast of a good harvest. However, some commentators have suggested that it also related to the word miw (to see). Herodotus also recorded that the Persians used the Egyptian’s love of cats against them. Then something truly remarkable happened: People discovered their cats made good hunting partners, which is pretty amazing when you consider that our pint-sized panthers are adamantly independent. It is generally suggested that cats were domesticated in Egypt around 2000 B.C.E. The ancient Egyptian goddess Bastet had the head of a cat and the body of a woman. These cats, unlike beloved pets, seem to have been bred for this purpose and intentionally killed (by strangulation or blunt force to the head) which suggests that the Egyptians were not always sentimental about their cats! The jungle cat (Felis chaus) and the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). With increasing domestication, cats in ancient Egypt’s diets changed as they were offered food by people thankful for their help, and through breeding programs, certain characteristics were refined. Cookies that are necessary to enable my site to function. On rare occasions, the cat was named “Nedjem,” (sweetie). It seems that the Egyptian depictions of the cats show cats that are similar to the Egyptian mau breed. The cat was no longer divine or an incarnation of a god. Facts about Egyptian Cats inform the readers with a sacred animal during the ancient Egyptian period. The ancient Egyptians used cats in their art and sculptures. One of the most common (and in my view the sweetest) representations found in tombs depicts the cat sitting under or beside the chair of the mistress of the house offering her protection and friendship, a connection made all the more important because of the association of cats with some of the most powerful goddesses. But she notes Egyptians didn’t worship cats. – 30 B.C.) It seems that the cat is in fact indigenous to Egypt. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/tomb-full-cats-and-scarab-found-egypt-180970786/. Deceased cats were embalmed, mummified and buried close to their owners. The jungle cat has a calmer temperament than its African counterpart and as a result, was domesticated more frequently. Most modern cats are thought to be descended from the cats of ancient Egypt, so these beautiful and engaging creatures represent a living link between ancient Egyptian civilization and our own times. There is evidence that the majority of the world’s cats can trace their ancestry to an Egyptian cat. While anyone who harmed a cat suffered steep penalties, numerous mummified cats in ancient Egypt have been discovered and had obviously been purposely killed. See more ideas about cats in ancient egypt, ancient egypt, egypt. It was apparently illegal to export cats to neighbouring countries. The two species eventually merged creating a new breed which was closely related to the modern Egyptian Mau. Facts about egyptian cats 8: Fun facts about ancient egypt The egyptians were so afraid of accidentally hurting the cats that they surrendered to keep the cats safe. The most famous cat deity was Bast but there are also a number of other ancient Egyptian gods who were associated with cats. This site uses functional cookies and external scripts to improve your experience. Kittens were preferred because they could easily fit in small mummy containers. A Cat in Ancient Egypt
Did they have the “good life”?
3. Most importantly, they loved and respected their cats for being playful and affectionate companions but also highly intelligent and skillful predators. And these paintings themselves are lively, bursting with birds and fish, and usually featuring a cat capturing them. Ancient Egyptians not only worshipped cats, but also adored them as their family members. But those of us who own cats (including me) love them because cats are their own bosses. Cats in the Ancient World by Joshua J. The ancient Egyptians even hunted with their cats, a seemingly amazing feat of co-operation with an animal renowned for its stubborn individualism. The deity Mut has also been depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat. The Egyptian Mau is the most popular of all Egyptian cat breeds.They are the only domestic cat that has naturally occurring spots, giving them an exotic appearance. Owing to this, cats came to be regarded as protectors of evil by the ancient Egyptians, and were domesticated by them. Anyone else deliberately harming a cat was in deep trouble. The Egyptian word for cat was an onomatopoeia that sounded like an actual cat. But what’s really fascinating here is that family members are portrayed wearing their best clothes and expensive jewelry, something that would make hunting lugubrious. It seems that it was rare for a cat to be given its own specific name (rather than being called “miu” or “miut”). The ancient Egyptians were respectful towards the animals that shared their world and associated many of them with deities or positive human characteristics. Some people have also suggested it may have originated from the word “Miw” (to see.) You may change your settings at any time. When the Egyptians saw the terrified cats running around the battlefield, they surrendered rather than risk harm to their beloved friends. In one really amazing discovery in 1888, a tomb containing the remains of 80,000 feline burials was found in Beni Hassan, near modern-day Minya in Egypt. This symbolizes the cat giving protection and friendship and this was especially notable because cats were associated with goddesses that were considered quite powerful. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty) This suited the cats perfectly as being close to human settlements not only provided them with a ready supply of food (the vermin and the food left by humans) but also helped them to avoid larger predators. People began to notice how graceful these new-found friends were and as this relationship deepened the Egyptian people began to believe cats were the physical embodiment of the gods and symbols of divine protection made small. The eye of the cat in this painting is decorated with gold inlay. This story may well be made up or exaggerated, but again highlights the high status of the cat in Egyptian society. Dec 6, 2019 - Our love affair goes way back . Considered a protector of children, Bes wandered freely throughout the world and home was wherever people were. NOTE: These settings will only apply to the browser and device you are currently using. People were often depicted on hunting trips with their cats. Their diet changed somewhat as they were provided with food by grateful humans, and breeding programs heightened certain characteristics in the formerly wild animals. Both the Book of Gates and the Book of Caverns refer to a cat god named Miuty (or Mati or Meeyuty). Throughout much of Egyptian history, there were strict penalties for anyone who killed a cat — accidentally or otherwise, especially as the goddess Bast gained in popularity. Yes! And in general, people didn’t name their cats, other than being called Miu, or Miut. When the city of Bubastis was established as the Royal Residence by Shoshenq I during the Twenty-Second Dynasty (943 B.C. This turned into a win-win situation for people and cats, who gained a steady supply of food and a safe place where they could avoid predators. Sacred Cats in Ancient Egypt: Cat Mummies at the British Museum, London, UK. Why were cats important in ancient egypt Egyptian history is full to the brim with incredible culture, architecture, mythology and traditions. The presence of tabby cats in ancient Egypt is further supported by a recent genetic study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. He suggested that the cats would “leap into the fire” unless protected by the men, which seems rather unlikely, unless their kittens were still inside the home. Bastet represented beauty, love, joy, happiness and was also the protector of humans. Not only would this make the cat’s eye glimmer in a lifelike manner, it reinforces the solar and divine nature of the cat. The festival was so famous that it made it onto a hit list of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 30:17, sixth century B.C.E.) Robin Ngo March 06, 2014 4 Comments 3789 views Share. to the 11th century, B.C., the idea of cats as hunting partners really came into its own. Diodorus Siculus wrote “Whoever kills a cat in Egypt is condemned to death, whether he committed this crime deliberately or not. At the height of Bast’s popularity killing a cat, even accidentally, was punishable by death. Mafdet would later be replaced by Bastet, and the city of Bubastis became a centre of worship for this goddess of cats. As this symbiotic relationship developed cats were welcomed indoors and eventually consented to move in with their human friends and rear their kittens in the safety of the home. Sources: A weekly newsletter for History Buffs like you. Dogs in the Ancient World by Joshua J. The Egyptians did not distinguish between a wild cat and a domesticated cat; all cats were known as “miu” (or “miut”) often translated as “he or she who mews”. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time i comment. And, interestingly, the work ‘mau‘ in Egyptian means ‘cat.’ This breed has a characteristic ‘M’ on its forehead and is the only one with natural spots. Diodorus recorded that when a cat died, their human family would go into a deep mourning and shave their eyebrows. “. The people gather and kill him. Cats were closely connected to a number of gods and goddesses, and there is evidence that they were considered to be demi-gods in their own right. A cookie which helps me track how many visitors come to my site and what pages they look at. They do not store any information about you other than that which is strictly required for navigation and function, and I have no aceess to any of the data. Archaeological digs have found that Cats were commonly celebrated in art during the Ancient Egyptian era and depictions of Cats have been found on tomb walls. These scenes should not necessarily be taken at face value. He also confirmed that the annual festival of Bast held in the city was the one of the most popular in all of Egypt. As an inscription in the Valley of the Kings states; “You are the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; you are indeed the Great Cat.”. https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/archaeology/ancient-egyptians-revered-cats-for-divine-energy.htm The cat may not have been domesticated, but was clearly important to the deceased. Mummification was not reserved for human burials. See more ideas about Ancient egypt, Cats in ancient egypt, Egypt. Apparently seeing a cat in your dream confirmed that you would have a good harvest. The mummified cats were most often buried in Bubastis, but tombs have also been discovered in Giza, Abydos, Denderah and Beni Hasan. The latter had a calmer temperament and so was more commonly domesticated than its wilder relative. One theory notes that because cats in ancient Egypt were considered semi-divine, everyday people weren’t allowed to own them. According to one theory, the cat as a semi-divine being could not be owned by a mere human. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/why-ancient-egyptians-loved-their-kitties-180965155/ During Egypt’s New Kingdom period, which stretched from the 16th century B.C. “The Egyptians looked at the cat the same way they looked at everything, as a way to explain and personify the universe,” said Egyptologist Melinda Hartwig, the curator of Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern Art at Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, per HowStuffWorks. The latter had a calmer temperament and so was more commonly domesticated than its wilder relative. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diodorus_Siculus And sometimes little girls were named Miut, which means “female cat,” and shows how fond these people were of kids and cats. Cats likely became so entwined with Egyptian life for practical reasons: Agriculture attracted rodents, which attracted wild cats. Bast was given great power, as were her smaller domestic counterparts, who flourished as a result. This site uses functional cookies and external scripts to improve your experience. Which cookies and scripts are used and how they impact your visit is specified on the left. ... World Heritage Encyclopedia, the aggregation of the largest online encyclopedias available, and … While many pet cats in ancient Egypt were killed in order to accompany their owner into the afterlife, some cat sacrifices took a rather sinister turn, with millions of cats being killed, either by blunt force trauma or strangulation and mummified. The pampered house cats we love so much share a long history with us, one that flowered in Ancient Egypt some 10,000 years ago as two species of wildcats made their way into homes and hearths — the African wildcat (Felis sylvestris lybica) and the jungle cat (Felis chaus). Other cat gods developed over time; including the lioness-headed goddess, Sakhmet, considered to be a warrior goddess and the goddess of healing, and the cat god Bes, a rather enigmatic fellow that’s portrayed as short and squat, with jolly features that sometimes took on feline grace. Cats in Ancient Egypt The cat’s association with ancient Egypt, however, is understandable in that Egyptian culture was famous for its devotion to the cat. Dec 16, 2020 - Explore History's board "Cats in ancient Egypt", followed by 12353 people on Pinterest. According to Diodorus, when a beloved pet cat died, human family members mourned deeply, shaving their eyebrows. 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