Friday, April 8, 2011

Catacombs for Upwards of Eight Million Dogs

Dogs, millions of them, sometimes only hours old, were ritually killed and then carefully mummified and buried inside wooden coffins in a labyrinth of tunnels lying underneath the sacred ground of Saqqara in Egypt.  Dating mostly to the Late Period (after pollution of Egyptian religious concepts by Greek and Roman practices, which tended more toward the barbarian), archaeologists claim the site is a testament to the enduring legacy of using an "intermediary" between man and gods - in this case, "dog" headed Anubis.  Hmmmm, I wonder if anyone bothered to check with Anubis to see what He thought about this slaughter of innocent canine flesh...

Story at Past Horizons
April 4, 2011

An elaborate labyrinth of sacred tunnels, containing the mummified remains of millions of dogs, has been excavated under the Egyptian desert. The Catacombs of Anubis project, led by Paul Nicholson of Cardiff University, is examining the tunnels beneath the desert at Saqqara, which make up the catacomb for the burial of animals sacred to the dog or jackal-headed god Anubis.

The Dog Catacomb has been known since the 19th Century but has never been properly excavated before. The excavation team’s latest estimate is that some 8,000,000 animals – most of them dogs or jackals – were buried there. Work on the animal bones suggests that they were only hours or days old when they were killed and mummified. It is likely the dogs were bred in their thousands in special puppy farms around the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.

Dr Paul Nicholson, of Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, said: “Our findings indicate a rather different view of the relationship between people and the animals they worshipped than that normally associated with the ancient Egyptians, since many animals were killed and mummified when only a matter of hours or days old. These animals were not strictly ‘sacrificial’. Rather, the dedication of an animal mummy was regarded as a pious act, with the animal acting as intermediary between the donor and the gods.”

The team is hoping that the geological work on the catacomb will help the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, who have generously permitted the work, in monitoring the site for its long term preservation.

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