The passion of the people of ancient Egypt for cats is no longer a secret. But why this admiration for cats? Well, a group of archaeologists took a serious look at the question: they then made some amazing discoveries that could explain this worship. They then made several interesting hypotheses.
We can no longer count the number of Egyptian creatures and gods related to cats. In particular, we can quote the goddesses Sachmet and Bastet, the first being depicted with a lion’s head and a woman’s body, while the second takes the form of a lion or a cat.
Cats have divine qualities!
As for the creatures, it is impossible not to mention the Sphinx, famous for its giant statue 73 meters long depicting a lion with a man’s face … Well, according to an exhibit dedicated to ancient Egypt at the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art in Washington DC is dedicated to the Egyptian people associated gods and cats because of the qualities the latter possess.
Cats indeed fascinated by the duality of their temperament: on the one hand, they were considered protective, loyal and caring, but at the same time they were also independent creatures that could also be wild and very bellicose. For the Egyptians, this double facet made cats very special animals: just like the gods, they could be both terrible and kind.
A millennial adoration! Photo credit: Shutterstock / Mia Stendal
Some scary discoveries …
The ancient Egyptians loved cats so much that they even gave their children little feline nicknames. And when they died, the tomcats were carefully mummified and richly adorned with necklaces before being buried in a special cemetery. Ancient Egypt can also boast of creating the very first known pet cemetery in the world, where archaeologists mainly discovered cat mummies …
But then the Egyptian people’s passion for cats could go very far … and it was almost unsettling. In particular, the research found that ancient Egypt had an industry entirely dedicated to cat breeding. These should be killed and mummified to accompany the deceased to the grave. Archaeologists then discovered that cats were really sacrificed very young (barely 5 months) and that they were between about 700 BC. And 300 AD. Millions of people suffered this fateful fate.
The cats were viewed by the Egyptians as protectors, loyalists and carers; but also violent and argumentative. Photo credit: Shutterstock / Utekhina Anna