Essay on Animals in Ancient Egypt

Essay on Animals in Ancient Egypt

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In ancient Egypt there was no unified belief system, instead a wide variety of different belief systems and practices which varied widely depending on location, time period and social class. Throughout the chaos of different religions in ancient Egypt one factor remained the same, animals.
Animals of all kinds were significant to the Ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians understanding of specific animal’s characteristics was broad and extensive, but often was limited to animals that had powers that humans lacked. The ancient Egyptians believed animals were symbols. For example - the Egyptians noticed how the beetle it buries itself and therefore used it as a symbol of survival.
Ancient Egyptians had varied relationships with animals; the lucky animals were pets or helped with agriculture, the unfortunate animals were either food or offerings to the gods. The ancient Egyptian gods and goddess were depicted as animals, shown by an animal itself, a combination of different animals or human bodies with animal heads, but this is not literally referring to them as animals. The representations were symbolic of certain qualities or characteristics of certain animals.

The ancient Egyptians did not worship the animals themselves, just the qualities and characteristics. A clear example of this is Horus, the sky god, who was said to have falcon-like qualities. He was depicted as a falcon but with other bird of prey qualities such as hawk, raptor and eagle qualities for his high intelligence, good vision and swift reflexes.
After 1554 BC, Ancient Egypt civilisation was run by pharaohs, considered to be half-man, half-god Pharaohs were believed to have spirits which lasted eternity. Pharaohs had to be protected; the cobra was the pr...


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...he Secrets of Animal Cults in Egypt. Available: http://heritage-key.com/blogs/sean-williams/salima-ikram-talks-about-secrets-animal-cults-egypt. Last accessed 21st June 2011.

Ollie,D. (2002). Animals and Belief. Available: http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/AnimalMummification.html. Last accessed 23rd of June 2011.

Videos-
heritagekeymedia's Channel. (2009). Dr Salima Ikram Shares the Secrets of Egypt's Animal Cults . Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-KR-OkScp0&feature=relmfu. Last accessed 25th June 2011.
Books-
G. C. Macaulay. (1890). The History of Herodotus. Available: http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/hh/index.htm. Last accessed 21st June 2011.
Frankfort, H (2000). Ancient Egyptian Religion: An Interpretation . New York: Columbia University Press. p4-31.
Lloyd, A (1998). Herodotus, book II: commentary . 2nd ed. Netherlands: E.J Brill. pg 99-123.

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