What Egyptian Animals Were Mummified?

Four-legged mummies sometimes accompanied their owners.
••• Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images

The word "mummy" might bring to mind a human form, but mummification in ancient Egypt was not restricted to people. Archaeologists have discovered the mummified remains of vast numbers of animals. Some ancient Egyptians even had their pets mummified for purposes of afterlife companionship.

Pet Mummification

If an ancient Egyptian was particularly fond of his pet, he could opt to have the animal mummified. Once the owner passed away, the mummified animal's body could then be kept alongside his own. Ancient Egyptians kept a variety of animals as pets, famously felines. Along with cats, dogs, geese and monkeys were typical household pets.

Sacred Creatures

Some ancient Egyptians mummified animals out of familial love, while others did so because they viewed them as symbolic of certain gods and goddesses. The ancient Egyptians held many animals in esteem. They connected them to positive traits, and often even believed that they possessed godly strength. They thought that crocodiles were mighty, for example. Cats were a major source of reverence in ancient Egypt: They were connected to beneficial characteristics including nimbleness, poise and maternal care. Ancient Egyptians frequently donated mummified animals to temples because of their sacred qualities. The animals were thought to be gifts to the gods. Designated animal graveyards were common sights on temple grounds.

Victual Mummies

Some ancient Egyptian animals were buried as precious pets, some were buried as sacred beings and others were even buried as food supplies for the dead people. These mummified animals were referred to as "victual mummies." Birds commonly served as victual mummies. Victual mummies were especially prevalent in royal tombs.

Types of Frequently Mummified Animals

Diverse mummified animals have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, and for different purposes. Cats and dogs were both often mummified as pets and sacred animals. Ducks, fish and monkeys have all been found buried at temples, as sacred creatures. Other mummified animals that have been uncovered include rams, bulls, baboons, gazelles and lizards. The ancient Egyptians cared for their cats so much they often provided them with victual mummies of their own -- specifically rodents such as rats and mice. The cats were thought to need food for their trips down to the underworld.

Related Articles

Adaptations of a Saber-Toothed Tiger
Linen in Ancient Egypt
Ancient Cultures Loved Their Dogs Too
Importance of Animals in Human Lives
Alligator & Crocodile Similarities
Importance of Plants & Animals in Human Life
Why Are Jaguars Endangered Animals?
The Importance of Kingdom Animalia
A Newly Discovered Tomb Full of Mummies Could Hold...
Animals That Eat Meat & Plants
Facts About Trace Fossils
Tools of Early Humans
What Animals Commonly Eat Hamsters in the Wild?
Tasmanian Devil Facts for Kids
Artifacts of the Anasazi Ancient Indian Tribe
How Were Tools Used in Ancient Mesopotamia?
How Did Bison Almost Become Extinct?
Do Bison Migrate in the Winter?
Similarities of Goats & Sheep
What Were Seashells Used for in Ancient Times?