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Bast was depicted as a young woman with a cat’s head. The punishment for killing or harming (even accidentally) even a stray cat in Egypt was death. In ancient Egypt, there were two different primary breeds: one the fierce jungle cats, the other the more peaceful African wildcats. Egyptians believed cats were magical creatures, capable of bringing good luck to the people who housed them. Hartwig wants to make one thing clear, though: Egyptians did not worship cats, but they did believe that cats held a bit of divine energy within them. In the city of Per-Bast, a beautiful temple was built, and people came from all over to experience its splendor. These cookies will be stored in your browser only with your consent. Genetic analysis has revealed, however, that even if cats were found outside of Egypt, that the Egyptians were the ones to officially domesticate wild, feral cats into what we have today. Bubastis, situated on the east of the Nile Delta, was a major center for the worship of Bast. However, there are several other aspects as well, which have managed to attract substantial amount of popular attention. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. Dec 6, 2019 - Our love affair goes way back . Cats in ancient Egypt were mummified and buried in large quantities, hence held a special place in the culture of Ancient Egypt. Some Egyptian role models in dealing with animals Amr Mohamed feeding stray cats – Egypt Today/Hend Safwat Mercy doesn’t exist among adults only, but it also exists among children as well. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. One woman is working to help save them. Two major cat lineages contributed to the domestic feline we know today, they report in a study published Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Facts about Egyptian Cats 4: the role of Bast. Seeing their revered felines running haphazardly across the battlefield, the Egyptians chose to surrender, rather than killing the cats. I've written similar, attempting to accommodate the constraint of our style, but I am imagining something is firing correctly today may have an improvement. Located at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe, the land of Egypt comprises hot, sandy deserts crossed by the ever-meandering Nile that constantly makes its way into the Me… Seeing their revered felines running haphazardly across the battlefield, the Egyptians chose to surrender, rather than killing the cats. Bastet was a goddess who could become a cat. 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, however, occupied a special space in Ancient Egypt. In ancient egypt, every big city supported one favorite god, similar to people who support football teams today. This Historyplex post attempts to shed some light on the significance of cats in Ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians have left a huge legacy of their material remains, which has helped us understand numerous interesting aspects of their life and culture. These, according to archaeologists, were apparently domesticated cats, as people would not otherwise take trouble to go in the wild, look for dead cats, and mummify them. Their pyramids and mummies have always been the subjects of awe. Cats in ancient Egypt were represented in social and religious practices of ancient Egypt for more than 3,000 years. There were more than 300,000 mummified cats in the temple - further proved that they were sacred in ancient Egypt. This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Located at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe, the land of Egypt comprises hot, sandy deserts crossed by the ever-meandering Nile that constantly makes its way into the Mediterranean sea. Slowly and steadily, as the cult flourished even beyond Bubastis, the cat became a very important and common, sacred motif. Ancient Egyptian cats had a sacred status in because of the religious beliefs of Egyptian society. Women also favored cats as companions much the way modern people today look to pets for companionship. Cats were called Mau in Ancient Egypt, and initially the animals attained an important place as the protectors of the country’s grain, as they killed rodents and snakes. Moreover, the men of the household would shave their eyebrows to express their sorrow. Several archaeological remains point towards the domestication of cats in Ancient Egypt. Her role in the ancient Egyptian culture earned more importance than the goddess Mafdet over the years. However, the culmination of the cult came about only by the 8th century BCE, when Sheshonq I (or Sheshonq I), the founder of the Twenty-second Dynasty developed Bubastis into an important city. The most widespread belief was that domestic cats carried the divine essence of Bastet (or Bast), the cat-headed goddess who represented fertility, domesticity, music, dance and pleasure. Even when a pet cat died, elaborate funerary rituals were held in its honor, and the entire family would go into deep mourning. In fact, all the cats were considered to be the manifestations of Bast, who was, in turn, their protector. The sanctity of felines in Egypt’s ancient times traces back to the belief that these animals have divine powers given by Bastet herself. Only one deity, the goddess named Bastet, had the power to become a cat. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. Buy, sell and adopt puppies, dogs, cats and other animals. See more ideas about Ancient egypt, Cats in ancient egypt, Egypt. We hope you enjoy this website. Wild cats are now known to have lived among the people of Mesopotamia over 100,000 years ago and to have been domesticated there approximately 12,000 BCE at about the same time as dogs, sheep, and goats. The cult of the cat, as it was known, was functional in Egypt right since the 16th century BCE. Cats were a popular pet in ancient Egypt and closely associated with the goddess Bastet (also known as Bast) who appears in Egyptian art with the body of a woman and the head of a cat or as a sitting cat in a regal pose. Their corpses were then mummified and sold to pilgrims as relics. There were two main breeds of cat native to Ancient Egypt. Cats may have existed then, welcomed in the households, and fed and nurtured. The ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, who traveled to Ancient Egypt, has mentioned in one of his travelogues about the importance of domesticated cats. Most tomb paintings representing household scenes have depictions of cats either playing, feeding, or just resting. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. However, she became Bastet, when she was portrayed fully as a cat. The deity Mut was also depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat. There is ample historical and archaeological evidence to show that the cat was, indeed, an integral part of a standard ancient Egyptian household. Archaeologists suggest that the ancient Egyptians may have developed a sort of symbiotic relationship with wildcats, which hunted down all the threats to supplies of food. The latter had a calmer temperament and so was more commonly domesticated than its wilder relative. Bast was known as the goddess of motherhood and fertility. She also protected humans from venomous animals, and since venomous creatures, such as snakes and scorpions were (and are) in abundance in the Egyptian desert, the goddess had an important place in the pantheon. Cats Rule in Ancient Egypt. In the absence of enough evidence, it is rather difficult to estimate exactly when cats began to be domesticated, but we know for sure that the ancient Egyptians did have pet cats. Egyptian god Ra and goddess Bastet looked at the world through the cat eyes, and people could make their prayers heard via cats. She was a warrior goddess, who led the pharaohs in warfare. It is absolutely fascinating how cats not only entered the common households of Ancient Egypt, but also occupied an important place in their religious realm. We've created informative articles that you can come back to again and again when you have questions or want to learn more! Cats were held in very high esteem by the ancient Egyptians. To honor these treasured pets, wealthy families dressed them in jewels and fed them treats fit for royalty. Animals were revered for different reasons. Even the export of cats was prohibited by law in Ancient Egypt, but they were often smuggled by Phoenician traders to be sold in the Mediterranean countries. The Best History Museums to Virtually Tour During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Virtual Reality Experiences That Let You See History Up Close, The Most Accurate Movies Based on History Worth Seeing, Subaru History: How the Japanese Manufacturer Become World-Famous, Porsche History: From Humble Beginnings to High-Powered Luxury, How to Become a History Teacher: A Brief Guide to the Responsibilities and Requirements, Houston History: From Independence to the Modern Day. Owing to the cat’s status as a guardian, it was then regarded as the sacred guardian of the Underworld. Pets for Sale in Egypt. Because domestic cats were known for their mysterious and secretive nature and also possessed an ability to see in the dark, Bast and all her earthly manifestations came to be associated with the Underworld―the realm of the dead. Owing to this, cats came to be regarded as protectors of evil by the ancient Egyptians, and were domesticated by them. Owing to this, the cult’s reach and popularity declined to a great extent. Be they neonatal kittens, disabled adults or long-lost seniors, SHE strives to rescue, care and find homes for each and every cat that crosses its path. What is surprising is that all these pet cats were never named, they were just cats. Though they are no longer worshiped in the manner they used to be, cats are still loved the world over as pets and for their mouse-hunting skills. Facts about egyptian cats 7: One of the civilization’s figures of worship, bastet, was known as the cat goddess. Whereas cats were an object of reverence, the most widely found pet in pet friendly Egypt was the dog. Bast was known as the cat goddess in Egypt. The internet is rife with cats: cat videos, cat memes, there are even celebrity cats! Wooden and bronze statuettes of cats were also made and sold, especially for funerary purposes, but also sometimes for decorative purposes. Ancient Egyptians worshipped many animals for thousands of years. She was the goddess of the home, domesticity, women's secrets, cats, fertility, and childbirth. The trend among the ancient Egyptians to domesticate cats may have begun when they realized the potential of these felines in safeguarding their food supplies. Famously devoted to these furry creatures —calling them miw onomatopoetically—the Egyptians mummified deceased cats and depicted them in paintings and sculptures. Find vets, rescue teams, shops and pet services in your local area. On this land, some 7,000 years ago, a mighty civilization rose, and attained such a height that we can only but admire it. When the cats died, they were mummified. If we consider lions as cats, the cult of the Lion-headed Goddess, Sekhmet, was prominent. Our site includes quite a bit of content, so if you're having an issue finding what you're looking for, go on ahead and use that search feature there! In 390 CE, cat worship in Egypt was officially banned by the Roman empire. Art from ancient Egypt shows statues and paintings of every type of feline. View Images An Egyptian cat mummy. Next time you see a cat, think about its connection to ancient Egypt. Bastet’s feline associations began to change around the same time as cats (known as miu or miit—he, or she, who mews) were being domesticated in Egypt… I do not own the content of this video all credit goes to National Geographic. Today cats can be seen throughout Egypt, wandering in bazaars or asleep in shaded courtyards, evidence of an enduring relationship with humans that this book warmly captures. 6789 Quail Hill Pkwy, Suite 211 Irvine CA 92603. The ancient Egyptian law forbade the killing of cats, except of course for sacrificial purposes. Animals were revered for different reasons. Cats began to appear on objects, such as jewelry, clothing, mirror handles, etc. The Nile valley is one of the most fertile regions of the world, and it has been supporting human habitation since almost 9,000 years. How Ancient Egypt’s beloved cats helped our feline friends colonise the planet. Here, in an accidental recovery in 1888, an Egyptian farmer stumbled upon thousands and thousands of cat mummies, buried underneath the desert sands. Dogs were valued for their ability to protect and hunt, but cats were thought to be the most special. The two species eventually merged creating a new breed which was closely related to the modern Egyptian Mau. Although it has been commonly accepted that cats were first domesticated in Egypt 4000 years ago, their history among human beings goes back much further. Everyday Amr feeds stray cats because they cannot always find food for themselves. Upon its excavation, cats were among the first things that the scientists noticed. Out of these cookies, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. One such aspect is the peculiar relationship that the ancient Egyptians shared with felines―cats in particular. Cats were so special that those who killed them, even by accident, were sentenced to death. Copyright © Historyplex & Buzzle.com, Inc. All rights reserved. The Cat in Ancient Egypt is an informative and entertaining work that will delight cat lovers and history buffs alike. Cats were so special that those who killed them, even by accident, were sentenced to death. As we know from archeological evidence, cats … https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/cats-rule-in-ancient-egypt.html. Ancient Egyptian relief in Edfu Temple ( Wikimedia Commons ) These cats, however, were not as cats appear today—at least not at first. The cult at Bubastis became so huge during this time, that the name of the city became almost synonymous with the name of the goddess. While all the other ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses are depicted in the form of big cats―mainly lions―only Goddess Bast was represented as a domestic cat. Ancient Egyptians worshipped many animals for thousands of years. Several ancient Egyptian deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads such as Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power. December 6, 2007—Egyptian Maus may descend from the first domesticated cats in the world. Cat figurines were also placed outside houses and shrines, in order to ward off evil spirits. Each year, a festival was held at Bubastis in honor of the goddess, and people from every nook and corner of Egypt, flocked to the place. But if you think that modern folks are cat-crazy you should have been around in Ancient Egypt. Dogs were valued for their ability to protect and hunt, but cats were thought to be the most special. The Ancient Egyptians had Bastet and Sekhmet among other feline deities, and cats were even held in higher regard than men, drawing from the fact that harming a cat was an act punishable by death. Though hard for many people to believe, cats would often join … You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. However, the Egyptian Pharaohs sent their soldiers to recapture their cats. The Egyptians worshiped a huge pantheon of gods and goddesses, with the inclusion of various sacred animals. As far as native cats in Egypt there are two main breeds, one is the jungle cat which is called the Felis Chaus, and the other is the African wildcat. Cats were highly regarded in Ancient Egypt, which is evidenced by the overwhelming presence of cats in Egyptian art. Owing to the rising importance of the city, the cult of Bast also became increasingly popular throughout the land. Thousands of years after cats in the Near East caught on, a second wave of cats began cohabitating with humans in Egypt. Bastet was extremely popular throughout Egypt with b… © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- The ancient Egyptians admired cats for their friendly, playful, and intelligent traits. In this study … One of the most obvious evidences showing that cats were, indeed, the most domesticated animals in Ancient Egypt comes from the period between 2,000-1,000 BCE, from the desert on the outskirts of the town of Beni Hasan, an ancient Egyptian cemetery site. A mummified cat is one of the grave goods that has been abundantly found in tombs, especially of nobility and the royalty. Herodotus wrote that in Ancient Egypt, the pet cat was considered as another member of the family. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. Moreover, various DNA comparisons also suggest that many species of modern cats may have been descended from the Egyptian wildcat (Felis silvestris catus). In a battle between Persians and Egyptians, the former captured a large number of cats to use them against the latter. The presence of tabby cats in ancient Egypt is further supported by a recent genetic study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. The latter one had the lion head while Bast has the cathead. According to Herodotus, the population of cats in and around the temple of Bubastis was so large that, in order to control it, these felines were regularly sacrificed to the goddess. She sat in a crouched position, in most depictions. “I am fascinated by cats,” Amr Mohamed, an 11-year-old boy said. Cats were obviously important, and there were enormous cults, which revered these felines. Later in Egyptian history, the goddess Bastet (sometimes just “Bast”) replaced Mafdet as the feline goddess of choice. Cats are traditionally believed to have been domesticated in Egypt during the Middle Kingdom (c. 1950 B.C.E.). According to Egyptian mythology, gods and goddesses had the power to transform themselves into different animals. Sign up to receive the latest and greatest articles from our site automatically each week (give or take)...right to your inbox. They Loyally Join Along in Activities. Ancient Cat in Today's Egypt Cat wasn’t the only sacred animal in Egypt. The jungle cat (Felis chaus) and the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). These cookies do not store any personal information. Besides these graceful hunters, Egyptians also considered sacred black bulls, falcons, crocodiles, jackals, ibises, sheep and some other animals and birds. Cats likely became so entwined with Egyptian life for practical reasons: Agriculture attracted rodents, which attracted wild cats. In a battle between Persians and Egyptians, the former captured a large number of cats to use them against the latter. Today, we know how highly cats were respected because of the mourning practices when they died and the mummification of cats. Fittingly, a bust of Sakhmet is the first object that greets visitors as they enter "Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt," an exhibition of Egyptian cat … Safe Haven Egypt is a volunteer-run cat sanctuary that has been operating in Cairo since 2015. Unfortunately the most are abandoned and homeless, they are treated badly by the owners or the bystanders. But, they were also held in high esteem for their aloofness and mysterious characteristics. Learn about how cats were honored in Ancient Egypt. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. She protected a household from evil spirits and disease, especially diseases affecting women and children, and also played a role in one's afterlife. But opting out of some of these cookies may have an effect on your browsing experience. Worship, Bastet, when she was portrayed fully as a cat 16th century.! Off evil spirits published in Nature Ecology & Evolution to protect and hunt, but cats so. With the inclusion of various sacred animals most tomb paintings representing household scenes depictions. High esteem by the ancient Egyptians are several other aspects as well, have... 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