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 WingsArchaeology
New in the Galleries Sacred Animals of Ancient Egypt


Coffin of a Cat
Early Ptolemaic peroid (4th century BCE)

 

 

Coffin of a Cat
Early Ptolemaic peroid (4th century BCE)
Mummified cats associated with the sacred animal cults of the late periods reflect a relatively late religious development, which began during the reign of the 22nd Dynasty (945-715 BCE). This dynasty originated in the city of Bubastis in the eastern Delta, where the goddess Bastet was chief deity. With the rise of the 22nd Dynasty, the cult of Bastet spread, and around the same time the female cat began to be regarded as her animal manifestation. From this period on, Bastet was represented as a cat or a cat-headed woman and became closely associated with the cat's fertility and protective powers.

The great popularity of Bastet in the late periods of Egyptian history is attested by the many mummified cats and cat-shaped statuettes found near her cult centers throughout Egypt. The numbers of cats used in her cult are estimated in the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions. Mummified cats were sometimes placed in wooden, cat-shaped coffins. Others were stored in rectangular bronze boxes surmounted by a cat figurine, or in hollow cat statuettes. The hollow statuette displayed here is exceptionally large, and indeed could have accommodated a complete mummified cat.



 
 
 
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