Mummification of Animals and Pets

This interesting "package" is a mummified pet cat from Egypt. Throughout history, civilizations around the world have honored animal companions. But how were these pets honored after death? Mummified animals can be found in abundance in pet burial grounds and ritual sites. Some are even buried alongside their owners. The variety of mummified creatures had religious significance, especially when it came to sacred animals, the living embodiment of the gods.

From the earliest times of the Old Kingdom (c. 2663 BC) pets were depicted in the tombs of their owners, and often mummified and interred with their owners. For example, one of the earliest pet cat mummies discovered was in Prince Thutmose tomb.

Cats were not the only domesticated animals that the ancient Egyptians. Dogs were another popular pet, followed by an ibis, a hawk, a falcon, a monkey, a snake, and many more. Most people’s perception of ancient Egypt places cats firmly in the category of the divine. While we’re often told that cats were sacred animals in ancient Egypt, they were only one of many animals that were held in high regard. However, it’s clear that cats were the most adaptable of these animals.

Animals mummified as sacrificial offerings were for sale or bartered at holy sites. Purchasers often gave the animals to a priest who then buried a collection of mummies as offerings to the gods. Similar to the ritual of lighting votive candles at a temple, mummification became so popular in Ancient Egypt that it became a major industry. Archaeologists have discovered 30 animal mummies in the catacombs of Egypt, each dedicated to a specific animal and filled with mummies from floor to ceiling. The total number of animal mummies is estimated to be in the millions.