Monday, December 05, 2011

Unwrapping the ancient Egyptian animal mummy industry

BBC News (Jane O'Brien)

With video.

The ancient Egyptian animal mummification industry was so large it put some species in danger of extinction. But as a new exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC shows, the Egyptians believed they were doing the animals a great honour.

Egypt in the 7th Century BC was not a healthy place to be if you were a cat or a dog.

Puppy farms and other animal breeding programmes were a huge industry - not to produce pets, but to provide a stock of animals to be killed and mummified.

The Egyptians believed that animals held a unique position in the afterlife. They could keep the dead company, they represented the gods, and they were well received as offerings by the gods, Egyptologists say.

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