A mummified cat

15 Things You Should Know About Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt

The embalmers of multiple dynasties used to embalm several pets with their owners.

Animal mummies in ancient Egypt were quite common. Ancient Egyptians, in general, had strange practices and beliefs. The embalmers of multiple dynasties used to embalm several pets with their respective owners. The pets needed to die so they could be with their owners in the afterlife. Hence, multiple innocent and healthy animals were brutally killed and mummified in the olden days. Various experts and egyptologists discovered numerous animal mummies during excavations.

A mummified cat
A mummified cat. Source: Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty
animal coffin
Ancient Egypt’s animal coffin. Source: Nat Geo
animal coffin
Ancient Egypt’s animal coffin. Source: Pinterest

Following are 15 eerie but fascinating facts regarding the mummified pets of ancient Egypt:

1) Pets were mummified with utmost care. Several pets were killed and preserved with their respective owners.

2) Animal mummies were also sold to the public as temple offerings. The local public of Egypt used to place them inside the temples of gods.

3) Many sacred animals such as falcons were specifically bred so they could be used as offerings. Falcons were considered sacred because Horus was known as the ‘falcon god’ of Egypt.

4) Multiple corpses did not have intact body parts when they were discovered. Experts claim that various mummified animals had broken necks or smashed skulls, indicating they were intentionally killed for this particular purpose.

5) Ancient priests would travel throughout the country in search of the correct animals. Once they had identified one, it was fed and nurtured in the temple until its death. The said animals or creatures were considered peace offerings.

6) The coffins that were discovered from temples and burial chambers had special markings on them. The wealthy pilgrims of the temples used to splurge on various types of elaborate coffins.

7) The people of ancient Egypt had proper funeral ceremonies for the deceased animals.

8) Ancient Egyptians believed that cats were magical beasts, capable of bringing luck to the people who took them in. To honour these cherished pets, rich families clothed them in exquisite jewels and fed them foods fit for royalty. When the cats perished, they mummified their bodies for the afterlife.

9) Ancient Egyptians mourned the death of their beloved pets. Hence, they gave them a complete burial ceremony.

10) People used to steal pets from one another in the olden days. The stolen pets were sacrificed in the name of the gods.

11) The coffins of the pets generally represented one of the gods.

12) The people of ancient Egypt mummified animals as well as humans, including cats, ibis, hawks, snakes, crocodiles and dogs.

13) Experts claim that over 70 million animals were killed and mummified in the olden days.

14) The dead animals were dried in the sunlight before the mummification process. Moreover, experts of this day and age claim that these animals have no organs in their bodies; all were taken out during the embalming process.

15) Certain experts suggest that these animals were starved before death. It was mandatory for the animals to have empty stomachs for the embalming process.

As stated above, ancient Egyptians had distorted beliefs even though they were quite advanced. Quite a lot of pets were killed for no reason at all.

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