Pet mummies
The Ancient Egyptians kept many animals as household pets, including cats, dogs, monkeys, gazelles, and birds.
Ancient Egyptian pet monkey Ancient Egyptian pet cat
Pet monkeys and cats are often depicted on the walls of tombs, seated beneath the chair of their owner. These paintings often had magical properties, ensuring that these pets, could join their masters after death. In the pictures above, care has been taken to ensure that the pets, like their owners, would have abundant food in the afterworld. The cat has a large bowl provided while the monkey has its favorite fruits. The cat also has a wooden chair leg to scratch (the left paw is actually in the process of scratching!).
The Ancient Egypptians also trained dogs, hawks, and mongooses to hunt with them. And scenes of hunting and pictures of favorite hounds arecommon motifs on tomb walls.
Ancient Egyptian pet dogs
Ancient Egyptian pet dog

Small faience and wooden models of dogs have also been found in tombs.
Ancient Egyptian dog
Ancient Egyptian dog amulet

Pets were not only present as paintings or models. The mummified bodies of pets have also been found in tombs. A certain Hapymen, buried at Abydos, was so fond of his pet dog that it was mummified and wrapped in linen, and placed at the side of his feet in his coffin. In the Valley of the Kings, in tomb KV 50, a pet baboon and a dog were placed so that they glared at each other in preparation for battle. It is unclear whose pets these rivals were.

Two women, Isitemkheb D and Ankhshepenwepet had pet gazelles (or in the case of Isitemkheb D an ibex?) buried with them. The mummy to the right is a gazelle from the Cairo Museum collection.
Ancient Egyptian gazelle mummy

Some pets were given quite elaborate burials by their grieving owners. The limestone sarcophagus below shows a cat receiving offerings of food and flowers. It was commisioned by the Royal Son and Chief Artificer, Tithmose, for his pet cat (Mit Rahina, XVIIIth dynasty or later). The hieroglyphic texts along the sides are the same as those used for humans.
Ancient Egyptian pet cat mummy
Ancient Egyptian pet cat tomb

Although it is possible that some pets were killed when an owner died, it is perhaps more likely that a pet was placed in the tomb of its owner after a natural death. The X-rays of these pet mummies may help to clarify this issue by providing evidence as to the manner of death.




© copyright Animal Mummy Project 2000

Photos provided by permission.
All Rights Reserved.