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215. 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. One of the most interesting traditions found in ancient Egypt is cat worshipping. Cats: If you guessed cats were the most popular pet in ancient Egypt, you would be wrong. Egyptians believed cats were magical creatures, capable of bringing good luck to the people who housed them. In the New Kingdom, the cat was considered an incarnation of the Sun god and the manifestation of the goddess Bastet. The sanctuary was located in the city of Bubastis where the remains of numerous cat mummies and small cat sculptures have been found. Several ancient Egyptian deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads such as Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power. Spread of Islam into Egypt added to the decline. In fact, every family had a cat. Cats were seen as symbols for “blessing, fertility and balance of nature”. They were slaughtered by the millions to be mummified and serve as messengers to the gods. When a household cat died, the entire neighborhood mourned for it. Significance of the divine felines in Egypt. 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 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. Provides expediting services for travel visas to Egypt, By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. Killing a cat, either on purpose or by accident led to a death punishment. Killing one could be punishable by death. This encouraged traders to smuggle cats into other countries by illegal means. Bastet, another goddess, is depicted with a cat head. You can unsubscribe at any time. Anyone who harmed a cat, deliberately or not, would be sentenced to death. Bastet represented beauty, love, joy, happiness and was also the protector of humans. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra terms and conditions and privacy policy. There seems to be a problem, please try again. A painting of a collared cat was found at Saqqara which suggests that the cats were tamed before 26th century BCE. He knew how much the ancient Egyptians cared for their cats so he sent the soldiers to still as many cats as they could. In the New Kingdom, the cat was considered an incarnation of the Sun god and the manifestation of the goddess Bastet. Cats in ancient Egypt were represented in social and religious practices of ancient Egypt for more than 3,000 years. Usually, cats were dressed in jewels by wealthy families to appear royal. The ancient Egyptians honored cats of every color. Ancient Egyptians not only worshipped cats, but also adored them as their family members. Cats . The ancient Egyptians sought to seek HistoryCats in ancient Egypt Owing to this, cats came to be regarded as protectors of evil by the ancient Egyptians, and were domesticated by them. Killing one could be punishable by death. How many pyramid tombs are there in Egypt? You're now subscribed to our newsletter. These small companions fascinated the Egyptians, and were venerated by all. Ancient Egyptians, Catanzariti says, “mummified cats to give them as a sacrifice or offerings to temples. 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. Cats--or 'Mao' in Ancient Egyptian Language--were considered 'holy' creatures and symbols for the gods of Egypt. Egyptians harvested plants and crops to sustain the lives of family members and community members. Their owners as a symbol of preserving them, alongside their owner statues. 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