Skip to main content
×
Home

Cats, Crocodiles, Cattle, and More: Initial Steps Toward Establishing a Chronology of Ancient Egyptian Animal Mummies

  • Pascale Richardin (a1), Stéphanie Porcier (a2), Salima Ikram (a3), Gaëtan Louarn (a1) (a4) and Didier Berthet (a5)...
Abstract
Abstract

The ancient Egyptians mummified animals as part of cultic activity from the Late Period into the Roman era (7th century BC to the 4th century AD). Necropolises have provided millions of animal mummies, reflecting the religious fervor of Egyptians with regard to sacred animal cults during this period. Despite the number of sites containing mummies, and the number of mummies themselves, surprisingly little is known with regard to the nuances in the dating of the cults’ popularity and activities. As part of a multidisciplinary project, we have conducted a series of radiocarbon dates based on a group of animal mummies from the collection of the Musée des Confluences in Lyon, France. Thus, 63 specimens of animal mummies and their wrappings were analyzed to provide a range of dates for this practice. Results show that some correlations can be made between the popularity of particular species and the time period in which they were mummified. Monkeys and goats appear to have been among the first mummified species (from 800 BC), while antelopes appear to be a later addition to the corpus (30 BC to 4th century AD), thereby reflecting changes in thought processes, religious beliefs, and economic imperatives over time.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Email: pascale.richardin@culture.gouv.fr.
Footnotes
Hide All

Selected Papers from the 2015 Radiocarbon Conference, Dakar, Senegal, 16–20 November 2015

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Berthet D. 2016. Les momies animales du musée des Confluences à Lyon: une collection unique au monde. ISAAE 1 – First International Symposium on Animals in Ancient Egypt. Lyon (France), 1–4. June 2016.
Bronk Ramsey C. 2009. Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon 51(1):337360.
Brunner-Traut E. 1965. Spitzmaus und Ichneumon als Tiere des Sonnengottes. Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen 7:154.
Charron A. 1990. Massacres d’animaux à la Basse Epoque. Revue de l’Égypte 41:209213.
Charron A. 1996. Les animaux et le sacré dans l’Egypte tardive: fonctions et signification [PhD thesis]. Paris: Ecole pratique des hautes études (EPHE).
Charron A. 2011. Les momies d’animaux: une classification des espèces de l’Égypte ancienne. Espèce 1:5865.
Charron A, Porcier S, Ikram S, Pasquali S, Lichtenberg R, Mérigeaud S, Tafforeau P, Richardin P, Vieillescazes C, Piques G, Letellier-Willemin F, Bailleul-LeSuer R, Servajean F. 2015. Etude des momies animales du Musée des Confluences à Lyon (France) - premiers résultats. ICE XI International Congress of Egyptologists XI. Florence, Italy, 23–30 August 2015.
Dodson AM. 2015. Bull cults. In: Ikram S, editor. Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. p 72105.
Houlihan P. 1996. The Animal World of the Pharaohs. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.
Ikram S. 2005. A monument in miniature: the eternal resting place of a shrew. In: Janosi P, editor. Structure and Significance. Vienna: Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. p 335340.
Ikram S. 2013. Man’s best friend for eternity: dog and human burials in ancient Egypt. Anthropozoologica 48(2):299307.
Ikram S. 2015a. Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.
Ikram S. 2015b. Speculations on the role of animal cults in the economy of ancient Egypt. In: Massiera M, Mathieu B, Rouffet F, editors. Apprivoiser le sauvage/Taming the Wild (CENiM 11). Montpellier: University Paul Valéry Montpellier 3. p 211228.
Ikram S, Dodson AM. 1998. The Mummy in Ancient Egypt: Equipping the Dead for Eternity. London: Thames and Hudson.
Ikram S, Helmi A. 2002. The history of the collection of the animal mummies at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. In: Eldamaty M, Trad M, editors. Egyptian Museum Collections. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities. p 563568.
Ikram S, Iskander N. 2002. Catalogue Général of the Egyptian Museum: Non-Human Remains. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Kessler D. 1986. Tierkult. In: Helck W, Westerndorf W, editors. Lexicon der Ägyptologie. Band 6. Weisbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. p 571587.
Kessler D. 1989. Die Heiligen Tiere und Der Konig. I. Wiesbaden: Harrasssowitz.
Letellier-Willemin F. 2015a. Les textiles. In: Dunand F, Heim J-L, Lichtenberg R, directors. El-Deir Nécropoles III: La nécropole Est et le Piton aux chiens. Paris: Cybèle.
Letellier-Willemin F. 2015b. The long-and-narrow-sleeved tunic of the mummy W 14 of el-Deir. 8th Conference of Textiles from the Nile Valley, Textiles, tools and techniques, 5–6 October 2013, Antwerp, Lannoo 2015.
Longin R. 1971. New method of collagen extraction for radiocarbon dating. Nature 230(5291):241242.
Lortet L, Gaillard C. 1903. La faune momifiée de l’ancienne Égypte I. Archives du Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Lyon 8.
Lortet L, Gaillard C. 1907. La faune momifiée de l’ancienne Égypte II. Archives du Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Lyon 9.
Lortet L, Gaillard C. 1909. La faune momifiée de l’ancienne Égypte et recherches anthropologiques III. Archives du Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Lyon 10.
Moreau C, Caffy I, Comby C, Delqué-Količ E, Dumoulin J-P, Hain S, Quiles A, Setti V, Souprayen C, Thellier B, Vincent J. 2013. Research and development of the Artemis 14C AMS Facility: status report. Radiocarbon 55(2–3):331337.
Nicolotti M, Postel L. 1994. L’animal et le monde de l’au-delà: les momies du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de Lyon. Bulletin du Cercle lyonnais d’égyptologie Victor Loret 8:3548.
Porcier S, Berthet D. 2014. Quand momies animales et Museum d’histoire naturelle font bon ménage: la prestigieuse collection du musée des Confluences à Lyon. Archéothéma 37:4145.
Porcier S, Charron A, Ikram S, Pasquali S, Lichtenberg R, Mérigeaud S, Tafforeau P, Richardin P, Vieillescazes C, Piques G, Letellier-Willemin F, Bailleul-LeSuer R, Servajean F. 2015. Projet MAHES - Momies Animales et Humaines EgyptienneS - Perception de la mort en Égypte ancienne à travers l’étude des animaux sacrés. ICE XI International Congress of Egyptologists XI. Florence, Italy, 23–30 August 2015.
Quiles A, Delqué-Količ E, Bellot-Gurlet L, Comby-Zerbino C, Ménager M, Paris C, Souprayen C, Vieillescazes C, Andreu-Lanoë G, Madrigal K. 2014. L’embaumement comme une source de contamination pour la datation radiocarbone de momies égyptiennes: vers un nouveau protocole chimique pour extraire le bitume. ArcheoSciences 38:135149.
Ray JD. 2001. Animal cults. In: Redford DB, editor. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p 345348.
Reimer PJ, Bard E, Bayliss A, Beck JW, Blackwell PG, Bronk Ramsey C, Buck CE, Cheng H, Edwards RL, Friedrich M, Grootes PM, Guilderson TP, Haflidason H, Hajdas I, Hatté C, Heaton TJ, Hoffmann DL, Hogg AG, Hughen KA, Kaiser KF, Kromer B, Manning SW, Niu M, Reimer RW, Richards DA, Scott EM, Southon JR, Staff RA, Turney CSM, van der Plicht J. 2013. IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55(4):18691887.
Richardin P, Gandolfo N. 2013a. Datation et authentification des œuvres de musée - Apports de la datation par le carbone 14. Spectra Analyse 292:5560.
Richardin P, Gandolfo N. 2013b. Radiocarbon dating and authentication of objects from ethnographic museums. Radiocarbon 55(3–4):18101818.
Richardin P, Gandolfo N, Moignard B, Lavier C, Moreau C, Cottereau E. 2010a. Centre of Research and Restoration of the Museums of France: AMS radiocarbon datelist 1. Radiocarbon 52(4):16891700.
Richardin P, Cuisance F, Buisson N, Asensi-Amoros V, Lavier C. 2010b. AMS radiocarbon dating and scientific examination of high historical value manuscripts: application to two Chinese manuscripts from Dunhuang. Journal of Cultural Heritage 11(4):398403.
Smelik KAD, Hemelrijk EA. 1984. Who knows not what monsters demented Egypt worships? Opinions on Egyptian Animal Worship in Antiquity as Part of the Ancient Conception of Egypt. In: Haase W, editor. Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt 17(4):18532000.
Vernus P, Yoyotte J. 2005. Bestiaire des pharaons. Paris: Librairie Académique Perrin.
von den Driesch A, Kessler D, Steinmann F, Berteaux V, Peters J. 2005. Mummified, deified and buried at Hermopolis Magma – the sacred ibis from Tuna El-Gebel, Middle Egypt. Ägypten und Levante XV:204244.
Wasef S, Wood R, El Merghani S, Ikram S, Curtis C, Holland B, Willerslev E, Millar CD, Lambert DM. 2015. Radiocarbon dating of sacred ibis mummies from ancient Egypt. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 4:355361.
Weinstein JM. 1973. Foundation deposits in ancient Egypt [unpublished dissertation]. University of Pennsylvania. http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI7324237.
Wilkinson R. 2003. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Radiocarbon
  • ISSN: 0033-8222
  • EISSN: 1945-5755
  • URL: /core/journals/radiocarbon
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 11
Total number of PDF views: 62 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 290 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 24th February 2017 - 15th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.