Millions of animals were ritually slaughtered in ancient Egypt to foster a huge mummification industry that even drove some species extinct.
As an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. shows, almost no animals escaped the carnage.
Although pets died of natural causes before their mummification, and sacred beasts were pampered by adoring priests, most animals in ancient Egypt had miserable, short lives.
Many were simply bred to become votive mummies -- offered to the gods in the same way that people light up candles in churches today.
"Various gods had different animal totems or avatars. Priests who maintained temples for these different gods offered a service whereby people could have an associated animal mummified and placed in a catacomb in their name," exhibition curator Melinda Zeder, director of the archeobiology program at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, told Discovery News.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Animals mummified by the millions in Ancient Egypt
Discovery News (Rossella Lorenzi)