Animals in the Afterlife
(Above and below: Mummified baboons. Photos by Richard Barnes.)
In 1888 an Egyptian farmer digging in the sand near the village of Istabl Antar uncovered a mass grave. The bodies weren't human. They were feline—ancient cats that had been mummified and buried in pits in staggering numbers. "Not one or two here and there," reported the English Illustrated Magazine, "but dozens, hundreds, hundreds of thousands, a layer of them, a stratum thicker than most coal seams, ten to twenty cats deep."
That's a quote from the fascinating National Geographic article found here. All I can say is, "wow." Imagine finding hundreds of thousands of mummified cats in your garden. You'd never need to buy fertilizer again. (JK)
I knew the ancient Egyptians mummified their rulers and their cats, but until now I had no idea just how many animals they tried to take with them to the afterlife. They mummified crocodiles, rams, shrews, "even tiny scarab beetles and the dung balls they ate." Some of the animals were thought to be living gods. Others were just pets. And many were just food for the other side.
Check out the animal mummy photo gallery on the National Geographic site.