10 facts about ancient Egyptian animals
Ancient Egypt was one of the greatest civilizations on Earth. The ancient Egyptians lived at the dawn of history; that period was significantly different from the modern world.
One of these differences concerned their gods, who had animal heads. This may seem like a minor detail, but it significantly influenced the lifestyle of the ancient Egyptians. They were respectful of animals, unlike us - and this led to the emergence of truly strange cases that history, as a rule, leaves unattended.
1. Harem for a bull
For most of the history of ancient Egypt, there was one happy bull, which was treated on a par with God: it was called "Apis". First, the ancient Egyptians chose from all the bulls one particular animal, which, it seemed to them, differed from the others in that it had divine tags. Then they took him to the temple, where they gave him all kinds of honors that any person would envy.
The life of this bull was amazing.He received a whole harem from cow concubines and ate cakes with honey. In honor of the animal’s birthday, the Egyptians held feasts during which he had to choose oracles. They even made sacrifices for the bull: before his eyes, butchers slaughtered oxen and cows.
Women were forbidden to touch the sacred bull, except for the four-month period when he was led to the city of Nikopol. There, the representatives of the fair sex, according to tradition, laid bare their bodies in front of the animals.
When the bull died, he was buried with all the honors. Then the ancient Egyptians chose a new bull, and everything repeated from the beginning.
2. Ancient Egyptians tamed hyenas
Before choosing cats and dogs, people experimented with the domestication of various animals. Five thousand years ago, for example, the ancient Egyptians attempted to tame hyenas. According to drawings found in the tombs of the Pharaohs, in 2800 BC, the ancient Egyptians began to use hyenas as hunting dogs. The great Egyptian rulers pursued the prey, along with a pack of hunting dogs and hyenas.
However, the ancient Egyptians did not particularly stand on ceremony with these animals.Although the hyenas were considered pets, their owners could easily cook dinner for them. When the hyena became too big, it was killed and roasted on a fire for some holiday.
Hyenas did not take root as pets. After several generations, the ancient Egyptians refused to keep these wild animals at home.
3. The first pharaoh of united Egypt was killed by hippo.
King Menes was the first ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt. He lived around 3000 BC and is considered one of the most legendary figures in ancient Egyptian history. He united the nations and ruled them for 60 years, after which he was killed ... by hippo. The details of what exactly happened are not known to us. The Egyptian historian Manetho writes: “Menes was the first king. He was captured and killed by hippo. ” That's all we know.
This story happened 5000 years ago, so it is quite possible that it is a myth. But the strangest thing is that Menes was a hero. If the case of his death was invented, then it means that the ancient Egyptians considered it worthy to die in the mouth of a hippopotamus.
four.Mongoose was considered sacred animals.
The ancient Egyptians considered mongoose sacred animals. They saw these little furry creatures slay cobras, and were impressed by the sight. In honor of the mongooses, they created bronze statues, and also wore amulets with their image as protection. Some Egyptians kept mongooses as pets. In their graves, archaeologists discovered the mummified remains of these animals.
In addition, mention of the mongooses are contained in ancient Egyptian mythology. According to one of the myths, the god Ra turned into a mongoose to defeat evil.
Another, more insane, story says that one legendary mongoose climbed into the open mouth of a sleeping crocodile and subsequently gnawed at the predator's belly to get out.
5. Killing cats was punishable by death.
In Egypt, the punishment for killing cats was the death penalty. Even if you accidentally hit her with a chariot, you were still expected to die. There were no exceptions.
The ancient Greek historian Diodorus of Sicily wrote that once the king of Egypt tried to save a Roman who accidentally killed a cat.However, the people were against mercy; people said that even if they had to fight Rome, they would not allow the murderer to go unpunished. The Egyptian king had no choice but to let them commit lynching. They mobbed the poor Roman to death and left his body to rot in the street.
Egyptian's excessive love of cats once led to disaster. In 525 BC, they invaded the territory of Persia. The Persians painted on their shields images of the goddess Bast and formed in front of their troops "protection" of dogs, sheep and cats. According to them, "the Egyptians valued these animals very much."
The Egyptians were so afraid of accidentally injuring cats that they decided to surrender to the Persians. However, this did not help the animals. Reportedly, after the victory, the king of Persia traveled all over Egypt, throwing cats at people's faces.
6. When the cats died, the family went into mourning.
The death of a cat was considered a tragedy. She was equated with the loss of a close relative. When this happened, all family members were mourning. In ancient Egypt, this meant that they had to shave their eyebrows. The body of a dead cat was wrapped in expensive fabric and embalmed using cedar oil and spices to give it a pleasant smell.Then the dead cat was mummified and buried in the catacombs along with milk, mice or rats. In one of these cat tombs, archaeologists have found 80 thousand dead animals.
7. They hunted along with trained cheetahs
By the standards of the ancient Egyptians, cheetahs were “small”, harmless cats, so they believed that they could be kept instead of domestic animals.
However, not every average Egyptian could afford to have a cheetah, unlike the pharaohs. In particular, Ramses II filled his palace with trained lions and cheetahs. As the drawings on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs show, the pharaohs often took tamed cheetahs with them to hunt.
8. In ancient Egypt there was a city for the sacred crocodiles.
The Egyptian city Crocodile was a religious center and a whole cult dedicated to the crocodile god named Sobek. Here lived the sacred crocodile, which the Egyptians called "Suchus" (from the Greek - "crocodile"). People from all over the ancient world flocked to Crocodilopolis to make a pilgrimage and see the sacred crocodile with their own eyes.
The crocodile was covered in gold and jewels.Every day a group of clergymen came to him and brought gifts in the form of food. They forcefully opened his mouth and forced him to eat. They also gave the animal wine. While one priest kept the crocodile's mouth open, another poured wine into it.
When the sacred crocodile died, he was buried with all the honors. His body was wrapped in an expensive cloth and mummified, and then buried in the catacombs. Then the ancient Egyptians chose a new crocodile, who was supposed to wear jewelry and drink wine.
9. Ancient Egyptians thought that scarabs magically come to life from manure.
You probably know that the ancient Egyptians wore small amulets depicting scarabs. Everybody did it, both rich and poor. The Egyptians believed that scarabs possessed magical powers. In historical films, as a rule, this detail is omitted.
Scarabs love to roll balls of manure on the ground and hide them in their burrows. Then the females lay eggs inside these balls, from which little bugs subsequently emerge. The Egyptians could observe most of this process, apart from laying eggs, so they believed that the scarabs did not have a mother at all.They believed that these bugs magically appear from the dung. They also thought that the Sun was a large version of the balls that the scarabs rolled on the ground. True, the ancient Egyptians did not realize that these balls were made of manure. Worse, they thought they were sperm scarabs.
10. Pharaohs who fought among themselves because of hippos.
One of the greatest wars in ancient Egypt was fought because of the favorite hippos of Pharaoh. Pharaoh Taa II Sekenenra kept a pond in which his favorite hippos lived, frolicked and splashed. He simply adored these huge animals and was ready to die for them if necessary. Basically, that's what happened.
At that time, Egypt was divided. The territories where the Hyksos lived were ruled by the mighty Pharaoh Apopi I. The less powerful Taa II Sekenenra was obliged to pay the Apopi I tribute. He endured the humiliation of a tyrant until he told him to get rid of his hippos.
Apopi I ordered Taa II to be told that his animals prevented him from sleeping with his loud cries - even though he lived 750 kilometers from them! Taa II considered such a request for insult and declared war on Apopi I.
Unfortunately, he died in battle, fighting for his beloved pets. But the war did not end there. She was continued by the son of Taa II. Two generations of kings fought from behind a pond with hippos. When the war finally ended, Egypt again became one state.