Cats were revered as gods in ancient egypt
Almost every artifact in Divine Felines, from chair legs to games pieces, and from tiny amulets to massive sculptures, suggests a similar degree of loving fascination. The Egyptians, so afraid of killing the animals and offending the goddess Bastet, surrendered. Large catteries were maintained by the Temple priests and a vast cemetery of mummified cats has been excavated outside of Bubastis.
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A cat in hunting and fowling scenes is another recurring motive in murals of Theben tombs. It had probably lived and died in the Ptolemaic period. The jungle cat Felis chaus and the African wildcat Felis silvestris lybica. In Anthropology from Tulane University specializing in the archaeology of the ancient Maya. By the time of the cat cemeteries, however, Bast was depicted as a domestic cat. At the time, she was depicted with a lion Panthera leo head. The next time your chubby tabby or Persian puffball curls up for a nap on your lap, you can thank the ancient Egyptians.
The people gather and kill him. She was so violent in her quest for vengeance, however, that Re soon realized he had made a mistake.
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Late Period cat However, 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. The cats were elaborately wrapped and decorated, possibly by temple attendants. While the Egyptians had several other feline Goddesses, such as the lioness headed Sekhmet, only Bastet was represented by the domesticated cat. Besides being great companions, cats may have actually saved civilization from starvation and disease. But most of the information we have about the Egyptians' veneration of cats comes via the ancient Greek historian Herodotus writing in the fourth-century B. The worship of cats in ancient Egypt was well-founded. The two species eventually merged creating a new breed which was closely related to the modern Egyptian Mau. It was apparently illegal to export cats to neighbouring countries. Seeking to punish them for their crimes, Re sent his lion-headed daughter Sakhmet to put them in their place. He also confirmed that the annual festival of Bast held in the city was the one of the most popular in all of Egypt. Why Did Egyptians Worship Cats? This pattern of cats with tabby coats continues throughout Egyptian mural art, thereby presenting a very different image from the austere black cat suggested by statuary. Mummies were used for votive offerings to the associated deity, mostly during festivals or by pilgrims.
These tombs belonged to nobles and high-ranking officials of the 18th Dynasty and were built in the 15th and 14th centuries BC. Jewelry fashioned into cats and kittens were popular New Year's gifts.
The fantastical nature of the image with the cat decapitating a serpent using a blade is an often-repeated visual reference to The Egyptian Book of the Dead; wherein a cat is depicted defeating the divine enemy of the sun god.
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As a sign of mourning, the cat owners shaved off their eyebrows, and continued to mourn until their eyebrows grew back. This of course contrasts with the law regarding the killing of cats. Carlos Museum in Atlanta. Most remarkable for modern archaeologists is the sheer number of mummified cats that have been recovered from burial sites across Egypt, including hundreds of thousands piled up in the catacombs of Saqqara and Tell-Basta, the chief worship sites for the goddess Bastet. Continue Reading. The scientific findings were bolstered by a study of not only Egyptian paintings, but depictions of cats from many different cultures. She was often also depicted with a head of a leopard Panthera pardus. These were attitudes that were attributed to a specific goddess. But most of the information we have about the Egyptians' veneration of cats comes via the ancient Greek historian Herodotus writing in the fourth-century B. Bast was both fierce and nurturing, associated with fertility, birth, and protection. He called this cat Felis bubastis. However, 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. The bright limestone of Maya pyramids today shines against the surrounding background of deep jungle green, yet these buildings were once painted from top to bottom in deep reds, blues and greens. In this site, the tomb of Tutankhamun 's wet nurse Maia was discovered in , which contained cat mummies next to human mummies. My research has focused on the origins and development o
When they died, they were embalmed, coffined and buried in cat cemeteries. The facsimile image below presents a cat with a distinctively tabby coat from the walls of the Tomb of Sennedjem at the site of Deir el-Medina in Upper Egypt.
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Only one deity, the goddess named Bastet, had the power to become a cat. Most of them were cat mummies. Dogs were valued for their ability to protect and hunt, but cats were thought to be the most special. These were attitudes that were attributed to a specific goddess. In houses. The festival was so famous that it made it onto a hit list of the prophet Ezekiel Ezekiel , sixth century B. 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. In this site, the tomb of Tutankhamun 's wet nurse Maia was discovered in , which contained cat mummies next to human mummies. They worshipped a Cat Goddess, often represented as half feline, half woman, whom they called Bastet. Here we see cats as the Egyptians themselves must have: Not unlike Sakhmet herself, they are sometimes ornery and sometimes sweet, but all the more fascinatingly loveable for their idiosyncrasies. The cats were elaborately wrapped and decorated, possibly by temple attendants. To place your cat under the protective paw of Bastet please click here
The next time your chubby tabby or Persian puffball curls up for a nap on your lap, you can thank the ancient Egyptians. Over the millennia, cats in Egypt evolved from useful village predators to physical embodiments of the gods and symbols of divine protection.
There are also a handful of other, more eccentric objects on display in the collection. However, there is some evidence that every cat was considered to be a demi-god although some Egyptologists do not agree.
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