Sunday, February 20, 2011

Egyptian Cats

It has been too long since I’ve blogged, and I feel badly as usual. Life seems to always be busy for me. Two weeks ago the giant cold front hit the U.S. and just so everyone knows Colorado was no exception. We did not get the snow, but we did get the cold weather here, which was just all kinds of fun. There’s nothing like having ice around the edge of my window during the day. Now it seems Mother Nature has thrown another curve ball and wants it to be spring. I don’t doubt that will change here soon.

In conjunction with all the complaining I experienced during our cold front, I wanted to blog about the cold weather during WWII. Many don’t realize people were out fighting in the cold weather, while all we had to do was walk from class to class in it. But alas, time got away from me and my innovative post is no longer timely.

Last week I started a blog on St. Valentine, but again did not get the post up in time. Instead of choosing a day for this post, I’m going to go a bit of a different route. Like my pancake blog from last March (March 23 to be exact; I think the table of contents was the smartest idea I’ve had because of the time it saves me), I’m going to do an animal.

Those close to me know I had a cat, Cheryl. I loved that cat, probably because I had her since I was three years old. Time did eventually take its course though, despite my hopes of otherwise. I wanted to do something I could spread out if I needed to, and decided to look into a bit of the history of cats.

If you are a dog person, I’m sorry. I most certainly am not. To balance it out though, I will try to do a post about your best friend (but just so you know cat owners out number dog owners).

In ancient Egypt cats held a special place in society. As a child I remember visiting museums and seeing cat sarcophaguses and thinking “cool!” It was in Egypt where cats were domesticated 4,000 years ago; it is around 2,000 B.C.E. the fully domesticated cat was brought into Egyptian homes. The cat in ancient Egypt, or miw (meaning to see) was sacred and respected.

These domesticated cats were used to ward off the asp (a poisonous Egyptian snake, the same said to kill Cleopatra) and other snakes, although over time the animal transformed in the minds of the Egyptians and became a god.

During the New Kingdom (1540-1069 B.C.E.) tomb scenes started showing cats as part of everyday life. Cats were taken on hunting excursions instead of dogs; these cats were trained to retrieve fowl and fish on these excursions. Statues of cats were placed outside the house to protect inhabitants to ward off evil sprits within the home.

Several Egyptian deities began taking the form of cats. One was Bastet, a feline deity often depicted as having a female body and the head of a cat, had the role of fertility, protector of children and protector of all cats. She became so popular she became a household deity. In the temple Bubastis, or Tell Basta, the cats lived a lavish life as the “embodiment” of Bastet. They were served upon until their death, when they were mummified and given as offerings to Baset.

The mummifying process for cats was just as involved with several steps. First was the removal of the organs, followed by the body being stuffed with sand or packing material, placing the feline in a sitting position, wrapping the body tightly and finally designing the wrappings in black ink. In their tombs cats received a bowl of milk along with mice and rats.

When a cat died their formed owners and occupants of the house would go into deep mourning and shave their eyebrows a sign of grief (and no, I am not that crazy!).

I hope you all have had a good couple of weeks. Stay tuned, I will try and update again soon. And as always, happy history.

~Remember you can suggest different topics for me if you’re at all interested about learning about something. I’m welcome to suggestions. Also, I’d love to know how many people read my blog. Hit “follow” and follow me here, or just hit “like” if you’re reading this through Facebook. Thanks!


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  2. It's never easy to lose a friend. I have a dog who I love as deeply as you love your cat.

    However I think due to the stochastic nature of evolution their natures differ a bit. I had a cat for a while too that I rescued as a stray; my sister has her now. She was never as cooperative as Fawn, my dog. Canines just seem to have been breed a bit more to act as a cooperative partner in a human dog diad. Obviously this doesn't extend to all dogs either(particularly the yippy ones!). A guess a lot of that is a chauvinisme humain. The great thing is to remember all the good times you had, all things pass.

    It's Perhaps the strangest Egyptian retrospective I've read this week! I always knew they worshiped cats but didn't know they trained them to hunt. I couldn't imagine hiking with a modern cat.