https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/why-ancient-egyptians-loved-their-kitties-180965155/ Several deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads such as Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power. Painting from the tomb of Nebamun showing a cat catching birds. Courtesy of the British Museum. However, it is thought that this action was considered acceptable in Bubastis to prevent an explosion of the feline population and that all the cats were offered to Bast (and would therefore live eternally in kitty-heaven). Cats were also associated with the “Eye of Ra” and linked to the goddess Isis because they were perceived to be great mothers. The Egyptian people didn’t differentiate between wild and domestic cats, rather all cats were called “Miu” or “Miut,” meaning “he or she that mews” It’s unclear where this name originated but it’s thought to be an onomatopoeic reference to the meowing sounds a cat makes. And they have captivated us for thousands of years because a wild heart still beats under that soft fur. After being mummified they were sold to worshippers who offered them as sacrifices to Bast or buried them with their loved ones. There were two main breeds of cat native to ancient Egypt. There are exceptions such as the cat named “Nedjem” (“sweetie”). See more ideas about cats in ancient egypt, ancient egypt, egypt. It seems that the cat is in fact indigenous to Egypt. The main center for the … Cats in the Ancient World by Joshua J. Neith occasionally took the form of a cat and the cat was one of Mut’s sacred symbols. They show their affec… The next time your chubby tabby or Persian puffball curls up for a nap on your lap, you can thank the ancient Egyptians. The Dogs of Ancient Egypt by Jimmy Dunn Accessed 1 Dec 2016. Their diet changed somewhat as they were provided with food by grateful humans, and breeding programs heightened certain characteristics in the formerly wild animals. 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. During the New Kingdom, cats often appear in tomb paintings along with their human families. Dec 6, 2019 - Our love affair goes way back . 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.
The cat in ancient Egypt was sacred
There were many cat-like goddesses such as Bastet and Sekhmet
Cats were given the “royal treatment” even to the point of being more important than humans!! This site uses functional cookies and external scripts to improve your experience. Most importantly, they loved and respected their cats for being playful and affectionate companions but also highly intelligent and skillful predators. 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 first domestication of cats took place in the Fertile Crescent dated back 10,000 years ago from the Middle Eastern subspecies of wildcat. The ancient Egyptians were respectful towards the animals that shared their world and associated many of them with deities or positive human characteristics. 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. Cats in ancient Egypt: | | ||| | A bronze statue of the cat goddess Bastet. 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. Not only would this make the cat’s eye glimmer in a lifelike manner, it reinforces the solar and divine nature of the cat. At the height of Bast’s popularity killing a cat, even accidentally, was punishable by death. D, Lloyd. Beautifully painted tombs have been found that show them hunting right along with their families. 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. However, there is some evidence that every cat was considered to be a demi-god (although some Egyptologists do not agree). The mummified cats were most often buried in Bubastis, but tombs have also been discovered in Giza, Abydos, Denderah and Beni Hasan. Sources: Robin Ngo March 06, 2014 4 Comments 3789 views Share. A weekly newsletter for History Buffs like you. 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”. They were accompanied by mummified scarab beetles, which were also sacred to the Egyptian people. 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. They called the cats as Mau. 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. Mummified cats were often dedicated to the goddess Bastet at her temple in the city of Bubastis. The latter had a calmer temperament and so was more commonly domesticated than its wilder relative. 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. Bubastis was destroyed by the Persians in 350 B.C.E. The export of cats from Egypt was so strictly prohibited that a branch of the government was formed solely to deal with this issue. One in particular was due to cats’ fondness for sleeping in the sun, which eventually created the attribution between cat and the sun god – Ra. Dreams held special significance for the Egyptian people, and dreaming of cats was considered good news, meaning the harvest would be fruitful. As the two species interbred over time, a new species evolved that was a close relative of the modern-day Egyptian Mau. 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. who warned that “The young men of Aven and of Pibeseth (Bubastis) shall fall by the sword: and these cities shall go into captivity”. 8 ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses that you (probably) didn’t know about Why was mummification used in Ancient Egypt? Sometimes Egyptians would mummify pet cats. Only the pharaoh had a high enough status to own a cat. https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/cat/ ... World Heritage Encyclopedia, the aggregation of the largest online encyclopedias available, and … Both the Book of Gates and the Book of Caverns refer to a cat god named Miuty (or Mati or Meeyuty). Owing to this, cats came to be regarded as protectors of evil by the ancient Egyptians, and were domesticated by them. 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. Considered a protector of children, Bes wandered freely throughout the world and home was wherever people were. They are also playful and loving and the Egyptian people learned to love cats for these reasons. Some of these mummies were beautifully preserved. 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. But she notes Egyptians didn’t worship cats. Herodotus claimed that on discovery of a house fire, the men from the house would line up outside the building to protect the cats from danger. The text reads; “I am the cat (Mau), who fought hard by the Persea tree in Annu on the night when the foes of Neb-er-tcher (a form of Osiris) were destroyed”, The male cat is Ra himself and he is called “Mau” because of the words of the god Sa, who said about him, “who is like (mau) unto him?” and thus his name became “Mau” (cat). Why were cats important in ancient egypt Egyptian history is full to the brim with incredible culture, architecture, mythology and traditions. Court records confirm that armies were occasionally dispatched to rescue the kidnapped felines and bring them home to Egypt. https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/archaeology/ancient-egyptians-revered-cats-for-divine-energy.htm Egyptians shared a lot of what we do in the modern world. Cookies that are necessary to enable my site to function. It seems that the Egyptian depictions of the cats show cats that are similar to the Egyptian mau breed. This site uses functional cookies and external scripts to improve your experience. 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.) 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 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. Once a week. Different experts believe that the cat breed the Egyptians domesticated was a spotted subspecies of the African wild cat, Felis silvestris lybica. Mummified cats inside a tomb, at an ancient necropolis near Egypt's famed pyramids in Saqqara, Giza, Egypt, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. – 30 B.C.) It wasn’t long before people realized these cats avidly hunted rats, mice, and other pests that ravaged their food stores. The ancient Egyptian goddess Bastet had the head of a cat and the body of a woman. [1] The deity Mut was also depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat. According to one theory, the cat as a semi-divine being could not be owned by a mere human. Several Ancient Egyptian deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads such as Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power. 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. The Ancient Egyptians believed that dreaming of a Cat was a forecast of a good harvest. As a primarily agrarian society, the ancient Egyptians had a distinct problem with mice, rats and snakes all of whom threatened the grain stores. Moreover, various DNA comparisons also suggest that many species of modern cats may have been descended from the Egypt… 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. We can be glad this custom is no longer practiced and our cats are free to live out their lives with us. Many animals were seen as the representatives of gods (for example, crocodiles, hawks and cows) but the animals themselves were not considered to be divine. Write CSS OR LESS and hit save. Sacred Cats in Ancient Egypt: Cat Mummies at the British Museum, London, UK. 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. And sometimes little girls were named Miut, which means “female cat,” and shows how fond these people were of kids and cats. These scenes should not necessarily be taken at face value. Particularly interesting is the scene in the tomb of Nebamun in which it was discovered that the eye of the cat is decorated with gold inlay – the only part of the tomb decorations to feature this effect. There is evidence that the majority of the world’s cats can trace their ancestry to an Egyptian cat. You may change your settings at any time. Apparently seeing a cat in your dream confirmed that you would have a good harvest. The most famous cat deity was Bast but there are also a number of other ancient Egyptian gods who were associated with cats. Bastet represented beauty, love, joy, happiness and was also the protector of humans. They worshipped a Cat Goddess, often represented as half feline, half woman, whom they called Bastet. However, the significance of having your cat with you in death went further still. The tomb was stuffed with dozens of mummified kitties, a bronze statue of Bastet, and 100 gilded wooden cat statues. The ancient Egyptians used cats in their art and sculptures. many Cats in ancient Egypt deities, were delineate and sculptured with cat-like heads like Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power. It is particularly curious that despite their great admiration they only had this one word to refer to cats. He also confirmed that the annual festival of Bast held in the city was the one of the most popular in all of Egypt. It was apparently illegal to export cats to neighbouring countries. This website uses cookies for website analytics and to allow ads. Diodorus recorded that when a cat died, their human family would go into a deep mourning and shave their eyebrows. CATS in Ancient Egypt
2. The origin of this name is not clear but it seems likely that it is an onomatopoetic reference to the sound a cat makes (mew). A Cat in Ancient Egypt
Did they have the “good life”?
3. https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/newkingdom/ One of these is the love of house cats! When the Egyptians saw the terrified cats running around the battlefield, they surrendered rather than risk harm to their beloved friends. Herodotus also recorded that the Persians used the Egyptian’s love of cats against them. 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 people gather and kill him. An unfortunate Roman, who accidentally killed a cat, could not be saved, either by King Ptolemy of Egypt or by the fear which Rome inspired.” However, some feline mummies recovered from Bubastis display severe trauma to the head or neck, indicating that they had been intentionally killed. "Cats in ancient Egypt were mummified and buried in large quantities, hence held a special place in the culture of Ancient Egypt. The latter had a calmer temperament and so was more commonly domesticated than its wilder relative. Yes! https://cfa.org/egyptian-mau/ 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. When the city of Bubastis was established as the Royal Residence by Shoshenq I during the Twenty-Second Dynasty (943 B.C. When the town of Bubastis (Per-Bast) was established as the royal residence by Shoshenq I (Dynasty Twenty-two) the goddess Bast was promoted to a position of great power, as were the cats with whom she was so closely associated. Smuggled cats practical reasons: Agriculture attracted rodents, which were also in... To allow ads only pharaohs, thanks to their high status, could own cats is with... Such esteem as the Royal Residence by Shoshenq i during the Twenty-Second Dynasty 943... 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Their lives with us ( probably ) didn ’ t worship cats and let them loose on the.... Cats was considered to be regarded as protectors of evil by the Persians in 350 B.C.E Egyptologists do agree! Ideas about cats in ancient Egypt for quite thirty centuries for practical reasons: attracted! As sacrifices to Bast or buried them with deities or positive human characteristics special significance for Egyptian! Was established as the two species interbred over time, a seemingly amazing feat of co-operation with an renowned.

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