8 Million Mummified Dog Sacrifices Found in Egyptian Catacombs
Ancient Egyptians mummified up to 8 million dogs as a sacrifice to the god of mummification and the dead, a study of the catacombs of Anubis in Saqqara near Cairo has revealed.
Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales were working at the ancient burial ground of Anubis—the jackal headed god—at the necropolis the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis when they made the spectacular discovery.
As with today, dogs were seen as a human’s loyal friend. However, they were also thought to act as bridges to the afterlife, as it was believed that they would communicate with Anubis on the human’s behalf, ensuring safe passage.
“It’s not some sort of blood sacrifice. It’s a religious act that’s done for the best possible motive,” said the project’s director Paul Nicholson of Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, to CNN. “Maybe you’re hoping that the animal will help someone in your family who has died recently (so that) Anubis will take care of that (relative),” he added.
Mass burial grounds, sacrifice, and animal cults were the norm in Ancient Egypt but it huge scale of this particular example makes it remarkable.
The trend caused as much consternation then as it would now.
“Who has not heard, Volusius, of the monstrous deities those crazy Egyptians worship?” asked Roman poet Juvenal in about A.D. 130. “One lot adores crocodiles, another worships the snake-gorged ibis … you’ll find whole cities devoted to cats, or to river-fish or dogs.”
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