Ancient Egyptian animalsWritten by Dr. Sherin Elkhawaga
The ancient Egyptians were very fond of animals. They had animals that were sacred, some were pets and other were used in farming. This article is courtesy of www.kingtutshop.com home of handmade crafts and educational kits. Sacred Animals. Animals were thought to be sacred to Egyptians because they believed that when one of their gods or goddesses came down to earth, they would represent themselves as a specific species. The Egyptians thought by honoring them, they would be pleasing god. They also thought that animals shared an afterlife with their humans so it resulted in animals being buried within its family tomb. The animals that were considered especially sacred: ˇcat- The male cat had religious connections with Ra. Kittens were specifically reared for sacrificial/worship uses . ˇcattle- Beef was often used as a sacrificial offering to various deities. ˇscarab beetle- The emblem of a specific goddess, scarab beetle was associated with daily birth of sun, and credited with spontaneous generation of its young. Because of its sacred status, it was widely represented in art. ˇJackel- it was considered a protector of royal tombs from robbers and helped in afterlife journey. Cats and Kittens. One of most common animal mummies in Egypt was cat. Cats were believed to represent goddess Bastet. Consequently, they were raised in and around temples devoted to Bastet. When they died, they were mummified and buried in huge cemeteries, often in large communal graves. From about 332 B.C. to 30 B.C., animals began to be raised for specific purpose of being turned into mummies. The mummies were sold to people on their way to worship a god and left at temple as offerings. Scientists have uncovered a gruesome fact: many cats died quite premature and unnatural deaths. Two- to four-month-old kittens seemed to have been sacrificed in huge numbers. So many cat mummies were made that researchers can only guess that there were millions of them.
Bastet: Cats are very useful animals in a country that depends on grain. The cat's hunting instincts were honoured by Ancient Egyptians, but so was cat's gentler side as a warm and loving mother to her kittens. Bastet can be shown as a woman with a feline head. There are disagreements among zoologists as to when these animals first began to live with humans along Nile, and about which feline became Egyptian pet. Cats do not appear as household pets during Age of Pyramids, though they were very popular animal companions in later times. Cattle were thought to be sacred and beef was often used for offerings to gods or goddesses. A bull represented power, aggression, masculinity, fertility; these could be attributes of kingship. . The cow's large eyes with long lashes, and her generally quiet demeanor suggested a gentle aspect of feminine beauty. Her gift of milk, which could sustain a human child, became of symbol of love and sustenance. Hathor: Hathor as royal goddess. Her name means 'House of Horus." Her image could take form of a cow, a woman with a cow's head, or a woman wearing horns of a cow. As a motherly cow, she gave king her divine milk, and protected him as a cow protects her calf. She was goddess of love, music, singing, and dance. She was one of most important deities in Age of Pyramids, and her popularity continued to end of Egyptian civilization. In early economy of Egypt, cows were wealth. A herd of cattle was a beautiful sight because it represented wealth in form of food, milk, hides, and work, as oxen pulled ploughs of farmers. Cattle dung was a valuable fertilizer and had many uses in building. The Egyptians admired many qualities in cows, besides their economic benefits. The cow's careful tending of her calf was a model for motherhood. In a time when many women died in childbirth, ability of cow's milk to sustain a human baby was deeply appreciated. Cows, like people, love music and will happily listen to a human singing, thus it made sense for Hathor to be goddess of music. The big, gentle brown eyes of cows set a standard for beauty. The Hawk A hawk, who soars high above world of humans, seeming to expend no energy in his long hours aloft, and who - far seeing, -can swoop in an instant to capture his prey in sharp talons, became a symbol of kingship. Anty: Anty was a hawk god of Upper Egypt. He is shown as a hawk sitting on a crescent moon, or in a boat. He became associated with other hawk-gods, such as Sokar Horus: This god is shown as a falcon, or as a man with head of a falcon. In Egyptian, his name is Her - distant one. Like good king who sees everything in his kingdom, hawk is noted for his sharp vision. The sudden stoop of hawk, as he leaves distant sky to attack and capture his prey, is like quick and decisive action of a king in defense of his country. Horus is one of oldest gods of Egyptians. In days when powerful leaders were fighting to make one nation out of smaller settlements, early rulers were called Followers of Horus. On Narmer palette, King is shown with a falcon whose one human arm holds a rope that passes through nose of a defeated rival. The earliest way of distinguishing name of a king from names of others was serekh, which was a rectangle representing palace of king, with a hawk on top. Originally, there were at least two gods called Horus. One is fifth child of Nut and Geb, Horus Elder, and other is son of Isis and Osiris. Over time, their stories and attributes came together. An old story tells of how Osiris, king of Egypt, was murdered by his brother, Seth. Seth was very strong and powerful. He took over country, and ruled well. Isis, wife of Osiris, hid child she had born, and raised him in secret. When Horus grew up, he claimed his father's throne. Seth and Horus struggled for kingship, but in end Horus' claim, as son of previous king, was recognized by a court of all gods, and Horus became king. In Ancient Egypt, each king was Horus. When a king died, Egyptians said that falcon had flown to Heaven and united with Sun Disk. The next king then became Horus. Like Hawk, king was a fighter, a warrior. This is why Horus, when shown as a hawk-headed man, wears an armored breast-plate.
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN CITIESWritten by Dr. Sherin Elkhawaga
The ancient Egyptians had many great cities. Some of their remains are still present to keep us bewildered on how amazing ancient Egyptian civilization was. Some cities however have now vanished, but still presence of very fine monuments give us a clue of how wonderful these cities were. For reading more articles about ancient Egypt click on: www.kingtutshop.com Many of egyptian cities were developed when certain pyramids or other large building works were constructed. The capital moved from site to site depending on Pharaoh. The first reason for this is internal peace which existed in Egypt from earliest times. A second reason directly related to first - given urban mobility each successive pharaoh was free to spend his reigning life on earth preparing his tomb for life after death in a different location to that of his predecessor. Egyptian Pharaohs would move to other sites when resistance to change in current capital cities was too great to accomplish their goals. Thebes, city of god Amon, was capital of Egypt during period of Middle and New Kingdoms. With temples and palaces at Karnak and Luxor, and necropolises of Valley of Kings and Valley of Queens, Thebes is a striking testimony to Egyptian civilization at its height. This is great, ancient city of Thebes, capital of Egyptian empire for almost one thousand years, for Egyptian inhabitants it was Uaset, meaning "the chief town" and Niut, "the City" it was later on called Diospolis Magna. Its present name of Luxor comes from Arab El Qousour, translation of Latin "Castra" with which ancient Romans indicated city where they had installed two encampments.
Luxor and Karnak now occupy parts of its site. The city developed at a very early date from a number of small villages, particularly one around modern Luxor (then called Epet), but remained relatively obscure until rise of Theban family that established XI dynasty (c.2134 B.C.). The city rapidly became prominent as royal residence and as a seat of worship of god Amon. At Thebes, also, was necropolis in Valley of Tombs where kings and nobles were entombed in great splendor in crypts cut into cliffs on Nile's west bank. The city's greatest period was that of empire, when it served as a reservoir for immense wealth that poured in from conquered countries. As empire began to decay and locus of power to shift to Nile delta, Thebes went into decline.
Thebes was sacked by Assyrians in 661 B.C., army lead by Assarhaddon, Assurbanipal's army deported townsmen before turning them into slaves and stripped town of its statues and treasures. Lastly, it was completely razed to ground in 84 B.C. by Ptolemy Lathyros to extent that during roman era it was a mass of ruins visited by wayfarers; few remaining townsmen settled in what remained of temples and tombs were reduced to stables. The Romans sacked it in 29 B.C., and by 20 B.C. there was only a few scattered villages seen. The temples and tombs that have survived, including tombs of Tutankhamen and of Ramses II's sons, are among most splendid in world.