National Geographic

Ancient Animal Mummies

Can't decide what to dress your pet as for Halloween? How about a mummy? An article in the November issue of National Geographic magazine shows that animal mummies were all the rage in ancient Egypt.

  • A queen's pet gazelle was prepared for eternity with the same care as a member of the family.
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    A queen's pet gazelle was prepared for eternity with the same care as a member of the family.
    Photos by Richard Barnes/National Geographic
  • The embalming house for the Apis bulls, sacred animals in ancient Memphis, is near the village of Mit Rahina. For 40 days, the bull's body would sit in nitron on a massive stone where the sun would desiccate it.
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    The embalming house for the Apis bulls, sacred animals in ancient Memphis, is near the village of Mit Rahina. For 40 days, the bull's body would sit in nitron on a massive stone where the sun would desiccate it.
  • A hunting dog, whose bandages fell off long ago, was likely the pet of a pharaoh.
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    A hunting dog, whose bandages fell off long ago, was likely the pet of a pharaoh.
  • Votive mummies, such as this empty crocodile, were buried with a prayer.
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    Votive mummies, such as this empty crocodile, were buried with a prayer.
  • A sacred baboon was enshrined after death in the Tuna el-Gebel catacombs.
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    A sacred baboon was enshrined after death in the Tuna el-Gebel catacombs.
  • Archaeologist Salima Ikram flicks at mud to free an ibis, a type of bird and symbol of the god Thoth, from the earthenware jar in which it was buried 2,700 years ago.
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    Archaeologist Salima Ikram flicks at mud to free an ibis, a type of bird and symbol of the god Thoth, from the earthenware jar in which it was buried 2,700 years ago.
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Among the many things that would be taken to the grave in ancient Egypt were pets and sacred animals. Some even had shrines of their own. That way, the deceased could be joined by their beloved in the afterlife. Over the past two centuries, archaeologists have uncovered thousands of animal mummies, and through them learned a great deal about Egyptian culture. Learn more by reading the article, and view more photos on ngm.com.

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