If you killed a cat, the punishment could be death. Cats were considered important and possessed a status equivalent to that of Gods. More information on Bast. A painting of a collared cat was found at Saqqara which suggests that the cats were tamed before 26th century BCE. If you subscribe to BBC History Magazine Print or Digital Editions then you can unlock 10 years’ worth of archived history material fully searchable by Topic, Location, Period and Person. Killing a cat, either on purpose or by accident led to a death punishment. The ancient Egyptians did not worship cats, but they did believe that cats had magical powers. Bast Sekhmet But while we love moggies for their companionship, Egyptian society fell in love with them for their skills at keeping the snake, rat, mice and scorpion populations down. Snakes were a real issue in Ancient Egypt and the presence of cats reduced the threat of poisoning. Ancient Egyptian cats had a sacred status in because of the religious beliefs of Egyptian society. You can unsubscribe at any time. Although several statues of different gods and goddesses have been found with a cat head, Mafdet, a goddess revered as the protector of the pharoahs, appears to be the oldest. Why did the Egyptians stop worshipping the kitties? Why were cats important in ancient Egypt? Their lives were considered equivalent to the lives of humans, if not superior. The ancient Egyptians took their cats on hunting trips instead of dogs, and statues of cats were placed outside the house to protect the inhabitants and to ward off evil spirits. They believed cats guarded their children and their homes. Recommended: CAT – Protects You And Your Home From Ghosts And Negative Spirits! Cat's weren't exactly worshiped in Egypt, despite what Herodotus wrote. The ancient Egyptians sought to seek HistoryCats in ancient Egypt In fact, every family had a cat. Sekhmet, another God was introduced as a much more fierce cat than Bastet, years later. You have successfully linked your account! The ancient Egyptians believed cats watched over their children and their homes. 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. Please enter your number below. They revered dogs for their ability to hunt and protect them, while cats for bringing good luck to people who kept them. Due to this endearment of cats, there … Ancient Egyptians not only worshipped cats, but also adored them as their family members. Exporting of cats was prohibited in Egypt. It's also interesting to note that while the Egyptians gave their pet dogs names, the only name we've … Middle Eastern species of cats were domesticated in Egypt about 10,000 years ago and while various other animals were also considered sacred, cats had a special status among those animals. In addition, cats in ancient Egypt kept the houses clean because when hunting rats and snakes, a carrier of serious diseases was eliminated, as the plague and the surroundings of nearby homes were safer. 12 Amazing facts about cats in ancient Egypt 1- The goddess Bastet had the cat as her sacred animal and was usually depicted as a woman with cat’s head or an entire cat and defended Ra, god of the Sun. The Egyptians were once at war with the Persians when a Persian general developed a plan that would work. Anyone who’s ever known a spoiled tomcat knows that cats have never forgotten the days when they were worshiped. As a sign of how highly they regarded cat hunting skills, the cat-headed goddess Mafdet (who goes back to the fourth millennium BC) was thought to protect people and their homes against these dangerous or food-spoiling pests. Cats were seen as symbols for “blessing, fertility and balance of nature”. The Egyptians thought cats to be important because they could keep themselves clean, without a person having to help them get around, manage them, or look after them. How many elephants did Hannibal take over the Alps. Cats . Why were cats important in ancient Egypt . According to legend, at the Battle of Pelusium in 525 BC, the Persian soldiers carried cats in front of them, knowing that the Egyptian archers would not fire, in fear of harming the beloved felines. The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. Eventually, it emerged as the guardian of domesticated cats. Why Were Cats So Important In Ancient Egypt? Provides expediting services for travel visas to Egypt, By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. The deity Mut was also depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat. Several archaeological remains point towards the domestication of cats in Ancient Egypt. So, if the internet is anything to go by, nothing much has changed. The cat in ancient Egypt, or miw (to see), was a sacred and respected beast. There seems to be a problem, please try again. This encouraged traders to smuggle cats into other countries by illegal means. The cat’s independence was instinct for them, but to the Egyptians this was a sign of power. The official website for BBC History Magazine, BBC History Revealed and BBC World Histories Magazine, Save 50% on a BBC History Magazine or BBC History Revealed subscription, Modern-day moggies are beloved by millions, but in the land of the Pharaohs cats were worshipped, quite literally. According to several historians, the cat cult in Egypt started 5000 years ago, during the First and Second Dynasty. Bastet, another goddess, is depicted with a cat head. Cats, however, occupied a special space in Ancient Egypt. Cats were praised for killing venomous snakes and protecting the … The ancient Egyptians sought to seek. So cats were not considered pets. Within Egypt, cats were originally the perfect solution to the overgrowth of rats and snakes in Egypt. Cats were very important animals in Ancient Egypt, they were both pets and symbols of cat gods such as Bast. Cats likely became so entwined with Egyptian life for practical reasons: Agriculture attracted rodents, which attracted wild cats. Killing one could be punishable by death. Bastet represented beauty, love, joy, happiness and was also the protector of humans. The cat achieved an importance that was increasing over the years, both religiously and socially. It was believed that she protected the Chambers against scorpions, snakes and all sorts of evil. How many pyramid tombs are there in Egypt? But cats were special! There were many cats. Egyptians' admiration for cats infiltrated all aspects of life. 215. Cats in ancient Egypt were represented in social and religious practices of ancient Egypt for more than 3,000 years. Usually, cats were dressed in jewels by wealthy families to appear royal. What Kind of Government Does Egypt Have ? It was in Egypt that the cat was first domesticated 4,000 years ago and where they were held in the most admiration and respect. Several pagan rituals were banned by the Romans in the following centuries, thus cat worshipping and religion grew apart. Hence, after studying the DNA of animals buried with the Pharaohs, it was found that the great majority of those were cats. Cats were considered to be demi-gods in Ancient Egypt, and only the pharaohs were allowed to keep them as pets, so all the cats were protected by law. The ancient Egyptians had great respect for … While the Ancient Egyptians depicted many gods and goddesses with the characteristics of different animals, they perhaps admired no creature more than the cat. He knew how much the ancient Egyptians cared for their cats so he sent the soldiers to still as many cats as they could. However, no animal was held in such esteem as the cat. They were slaughtered by the millions to be mummified and serve as messengers to the gods. These are just but a few examples of the kind of high esteem that cats have been held to by both the current and past generations. You will shortly receive a receipt for your purchase via email. Article by History. Hurting a cat was a punishable offence. Cats: If you guessed cats were the most popular pet in ancient Egypt, you would be wrong. Ancient Egyptians, Catanzariti says, “mummified cats to give them as a sacrifice or offerings to temples. 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. They revered dogs for their ability to hunt and protect them, while cats for bringing good luck to people who kept them. In ancient Egypt, cats were sacred animals. more information Accept. Due to this endearment of cats, there were several laws to protect the creature. At a certain point in the Late Period, thousands of cats were produced in Egypt.” January 2020. It was in Egypt that cats were first domesticated more than 4000 years ago, and around 2000 BCE that the fully domesticated cat was brought into the houses of Egyptians. In the New Kingdom, the cat was considered an incarnation of the Sun god and the manifestation of the goddess Bastet. This article was first published in the January 2018 issue of BBC History Revealed magazine, Save a huge 50% off a subscription to your favourite history magazine. In Ancient Egypt, cats were mummified and buried with jewelry, and harming a cat was an offense that could be punished with death Nov 26, 2017 Domagoj Valjak The Ancient Egyptian religion was a vastly complex system of polytheistic beliefs that included an elaborate mythology and a large number of deities. The sanctuary was located in the city of Bubastis where the remains of numerous cat mummies and small cat sculptures have been found. Mafdet would later be replaced by Bastet, and the city of Bubastis became a centre of worship for this goddess of cats. Hundreds of thousands descended on the temple there every year for the festival of Bast, which the visiting Greek historian Herodotus described as one of the most popular in all of Egypt. Cats in Ancient Egypt The ancient Egyptians were respectful towards the animals that shared their world and associated many of them with deities or positive human characteristics. Thank you for subscribing to HistoryExtra, you now have unlimited access. Sekhmet was known to have the head of a lioness and initially was regarded the same as Bastet. Their lives were considered equivalent to the lives of humans, if not superior. The cat culture continued for centuries, until 30 AD when Egypt became a part of the Roman empire. These small companions fascinated the Egyptians, and were venerated by all. They were magical. The worship of cats in ancient Egypt was well-founded. Egyptians believed cats were magical creatures, capable of bringing good luck to the people who housed them. Ancient Egyptians had crafted several laws to protect their cats. Why were cats so important in Ancient Egypt? It was against the law in ancient Egypt to harm a cat. The ancient Egyptian society relied heavily on agricultural activities. When a household cat died, the entire neighborhood mourned for it. Several ancient Egyptian deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads such as Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power. Ancient Egyptians were known to worship many animals for many years. The ancient Egyptians honored cats of every color. Cats--or 'Mao' in Ancient Egyptian Language--were considered 'holy' creatures and symbols for the gods of Egypt. Animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, asses, and different kinds of birds were domesticated in the Pre-Dynastic Period (c.6000 - c. 3150 BCE) as evidenced by grave goods and overuse of the land for grazing. Thanks! According to legend, at the Battle of Pelusium in 525 BC, the Persian soldiers carried cats in front of them, knowing that the Egyptian archers would not fire, in fear of harming the beloved felines. The jungle cat (Felis chaus) and the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). Why Were Cats So Important In Ancient Egypt? By the time of the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150-c. 2613 BCE) cattle were the most important animal and were regarded as objects of substantial wealth as made clear through the Egyptian Cattle Count which was a for… Ancient Egyptian deities are the gods and goddesses worshipped in ancient Egypt.The beliefs and rituals surrounding these gods formed the core of ancient Egyptian religion, which emerged sometime in prehistory.Deities represented natural forces and phenomena, and the Egyptians supported and appeased them through offerings and rituals so that these forces would continue to function … Cats were drawn on walls, on ceilings, carved out of stones, sculpted on amulets and painted on clothes. Scarab Beetle . They had become a symbol of the Egyptian culture, a symbol we recognise and love even today. 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