They revered dogs for their ability to hunt and protect them, while cats for bringing good luck to people who kept them. 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. Their lives were considered equivalent to the lives of humans, if not superior. Ancient Egyptians not only worshipped cats, but also adored them as their family members. Article by History. Significance of the divine felines in Egypt. You will shortly receive a receipt for your purchase via email. Scarab Beetle . They revered dogs for their ability to hunt and protect them, while cats for bringing good luck to people who kept them. It was against the law in ancient Egypt to harm a cat. Eventually, it emerged as the guardian of domesticated cats. 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. 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”. Bast Sekhmet Owing to this, cats came to be regarded as protectors of evil by the ancient Egyptians, and were domesticated by them. Cats were mighty and strong and held sacred. But cats were special! Ordinary citizens and esteemed professionals alike noted the importance of cats in Egyptian culture. A whole branch of government was formed to just deal with this issue. Egyptians believed cats were magical creatures, capable of bringing good luck to the people who housed them. 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. 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. Cats in ancient Egypt were represented in social and religious practices of ancient Egypt for more than 3,000 years. Sekhmet was known to have the head of a lioness and initially was regarded the same as Bastet. The cat culture continued for centuries, until 30 AD when Egypt became a part of the Roman empire. Mafdet would later be replaced by Bastet, and the city of Bubastis became a centre of worship for this goddess of cats. Everything you ever wanted to know about... History TV and radio in the UK: what’s on our screens in December 2020? Why Were Cats So Important In Ancient Egypt? The Egyptians were once at war with the Persians when a Persian general developed a plan that would work. 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 cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. Killing a cat, either on purpose or by accident led to a death punishment. So the humans had lots of respect for cats. 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. They had become a symbol of the Egyptian culture, a symbol we recognise and love even today. More information on Bast. Why Were Cats So Important In Ancient Egypt? 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. Due to this endearment of cats, there were several laws to protect the creature. Cats . Protection and Significance of the divine felines, How long does it take to get a visa to Egypt. Why were cats important in ancient Egypt? They believed cats guarded their children and their homes. You have successfully linked your account! 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. Why were cats important in ancient Egypt . There were two main breeds of cat native to Ancient Egypt. One of the most interesting traditions found in ancient Egypt is cat worshipping. 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. Ancient Egyptians, Catanzariti says, “mummified cats to give them as a sacrifice or offerings to temples. Several archaeological remains point towards the domestication of cats in Ancient Egypt. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra terms and conditions and privacy policy. 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. While the Ancient Egyptians depicted many gods and goddesses with the characteristics of different animals, they perhaps admired no creature more than the cat. Thank you for subscribing to HistoryExtra, you now have unlimited access. Why did the Egyptians stop worshipping the kitties? Thanks! It was believed that she protected the Chambers against scorpions, snakes and all sorts of evil. Through this behaviour, cats were perceived to have a protective nature which, combined with their ability to have lots of kittens, made them a symbol of the home, women, and fertility. 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 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. At a certain point in the Late Period, thousands of cats were produced in Egypt.” Cats were drawn on walls, on ceilings, carved out of stones, sculpted on amulets and painted on clothes. In fact, every family had a cat. Anyone who’s ever known a spoiled tomcat knows that cats have never forgotten the days when they were worshiped. He knew how much the ancient Egyptians cared for their cats so he sent the soldiers to still as many cats as they could. 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. 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 … 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 had crafted several laws to protect their cats. Egyptians' admiration for cats infiltrated all aspects of life. It's also interesting to note that while the Egyptians gave their pet dogs names, the only name we've … Please enter your number below. Egyptian statues and paintings depict every type of feline. more information Accept. These small companions fascinated the Egyptians, and were venerated by all. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this. So, if the internet is anything to go by, nothing much has changed. Cats were considered important and possessed a status equivalent to that of Gods. Usually, cats were dressed in jewels by wealthy families to appear royal. In this time and place — Ancient Egypt — one creature existed that could make the world safe from these little monsters: the cat,” the website read. There seems to be a problem, please try again. There were many cats. How many elephants did Hannibal take over the Alps. Snakes were a real issue in Ancient Egypt and the presence of cats reduced the threat of poisoning. Without them, civilization as we know it might have never survived! So cats were not considered pets. However, no animal was held in such esteem as the cat. Moreover, various DNA comparisons also suggest that many species of modern cats may have been descended from the Egypt… 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 domesticated cat was a symbol of grace and poise because of the way it hunts its prey. The sanctuary was located in the city of Bubastis where the remains of numerous cat mummies and small cat sculptures have been found. 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. Bastet represented beauty, love, joy, happiness and was also the protector of humans. Recommended: CAT – Protects You And Your Home From Ghosts And Negative Spirits! Egyptian history is full to the brim with incredible culture, architecture, mythology and traditions. Cats were considered important and possessed a status equivalent to that of Gods. The cat owners shaved off them eyebrows and would mourn for their cats until their eyebrows grew back. Cats: If you guessed cats were the most popular pet in ancient Egypt, you would be wrong. The ancient Egyptians honored cats of every color. Anyone who harmed a cat, deliberately or not, would be sentenced to death. Cats likely became so entwined with Egyptian life for practical reasons: Agriculture attracted rodents, which attracted wild cats. 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. The ancient Egyptians sought to seek HistoryCats in ancient Egypt Several pagan rituals were banned by the Romans in the following centuries, thus cat worshipping and religion grew apart. 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… Killing one could be punishable by death. Hurting a cat was a punishable offence. In the New Kingdom, the cat was considered an incarnation of the Sun god and the manifestation of the goddess Bastet. 215. Cats appeared in art, always in a position of respect, and were domesticated into loving members of a family – so much so that they would be mourned and mummified after they died. They were magical. This encouraged traders to smuggle cats into other countries by illegal means. Their lives were considered equivalent to the lives of humans, if not superior. Ancient Egyptians were known to worship many animals for many years. They were slaughtered by the millions to be mummified and serve as messengers to the gods. 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. The cat achieved an importance that was increasing over the years, both religiously and socially. Cats once saved lives by defending families from vermin. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. Ancient Egyptian cats had a sacred status in because of the religious beliefs of Egyptian society. Within Egypt, cats were originally the perfect solution to the overgrowth of rats and snakes in Egypt. In ancient Egypt, cats were sacred animals. If you killed a cat, the punishment could be death. The ancient Egyptian society relied heavily on agricultural activities. Egyptians harvested plants and crops to sustain the lives of family members and community members. The ancient Egyptians sought to seek. A painting of a collared cat was found at Saqqara which suggests that the cats were tamed before 26th century BCE. The ancient Egyptians did not worship cats, but they did believe that cats had magical powers. Cats were very important animals in Ancient Egypt, they were both pets and symbols of cat gods such as Bast. You can unsubscribe at any time. People dedicated mummified cats at the sanctuary of the cat goddess Bastet as offerings. The deity Mut was also depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat. January 2020. The latter had a calmer temperament and so was more commonly domesticated than its wilder relative. Bastet, another goddess, is depicted with a cat head. The ancient Egyptians had a strong love for cats, so strong that they surrendered to the Persians because of their cats. The cat’s independence was instinct for them, but to the Egyptians this was a sign of power. 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. According to several historians, the cat cult in Egypt started 5000 years ago, during the First and Second Dynasty. 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. Cats, however, occupied a special space in Ancient Egypt. Killing one could be punishable by death. Two goddesses in the Egyptian pantheon were even portrayed as cat-like- Bast and Sekhmet and were worshiped as long ago as 3000 b.c.e. In the following centuries since the fall of Third Dynasty, even the common people started keeping domistacted cats and worshipping them. 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. Spread of Islam into Egypt added to the decline. The ancient Egyptians had great respect for … Why were Cats so Important in Ancient Egypt?Wild Ciencias Channel :https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDBgTJ_aPb8YT4FuLZ6WU2w♦Consider to Support the … Ancient Egyptians were known to worship many animals for many years. Cat's weren't exactly worshiped in Egypt, despite what Herodotus wrote. How many pyramid tombs are there in Egypt? The jungle cat (Felis chaus) and the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). 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. The worship of cats in ancient Egypt was well-founded. What Kind of Government Does Egypt Have ? Since then, the affection and significance for cats declined. Sekhmet, another God was introduced as a much more fierce cat than Bastet, years later. Provides expediting services for travel visas to Egypt, By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. The cat in ancient Egypt, or miw (to see), was a sacred and respected beast. 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. In the New Kingdom, the cat was considered an incarnation of the Sun god and the manifestation of the goddess Bastet. The ancient Egyptians believed cats watched over their children and their homes. Why were cats so important in Ancient Egypt? The cat was embalmed and mummified and usually buried along with their masters. 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. 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. The most famous Ancient Egyptian insect is the Scarab Beetle. Due to this endearment of cats, there … When a household cat died, the entire neighborhood mourned for it. Cats--or 'Mao' in Ancient Egyptian Language--were considered 'holy' creatures and symbols for the gods of Egypt. Hence, after studying the DNA of animals buried with the Pharaohs, it was found that the great majority of those were cats. When cats died, they were buried along with their owners as a symbol of preserving them, alongside their owner. 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