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Eight million dog mummies found in Saqqara
Eight million dog mummies were uncovered at the dog catacomb in Saqqara
Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 2 Jan 2013
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Ikram with a dog mummy. photo courtesy of NG

During routine excavations at the dog catacomb in Saqqara necropolis, an excavation team led by Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at The American University in Cairo (AUC), and an international team of researchers led by Paul Nicholson of Cardiff University have uncovered almost 8 million animal mummies at the burial site.

Studies on their bones revealed that those dogs are from different breeds but not accurately identified yet.

“We are recording the animal bones and the mummification techniques used to prepare the animals,” Ikram said.

Studies on the mummies, Ikram explains, revealed that some of them were old while the majority were buried hours after their birth. She said that the mummified animals were not limited to canines but there are cat and mongoose remains in the deposit.

“We are trying to understand how this fits religiously with the cult of Anubis, to whom the catacomb is dedicated,” she added.

Ikram also told National Geographic, which is financing the project, that “in some churches people light a candle, and their prayer is taken directly up to God in that smoke. In the same way, a mummified dog's spirit would carry a person's prayer to the afterlife”.

Saqqara dog catacomb was first discovered in 1897 when well-known French Egyptologist Jacques De Morgan published his Carte of Memphite necropolis, with his map showing that there are two dog catacombs in the area.

However, mystery has overshadowed such mapping as it was not clear who was the first to discover the catacombs nor who carried out the mapping, and whether they were really for dogs.

“The proximity of the catacombs to the nearby temple of Anubis, the so called jackal or dog-headed deity associated with cemeteries and embalming makes it likely that these catacombs are indeed for canines and their presence at Saqqara is to be explained by the concentration of other animal cuts at the site,” Nicholson wrote on his website.

“These other cults include the burials of, and temples for, bulls, cows, baboons, ibises, hawks and cats all of which were thought to act as intermediaries between humans and their gods.”

Despite the great quantity of animals buried in these catacombs and the immense size of the underground burial places, Egyptologists have focused on the temples and on inscriptional evidence rather than on the animals themselves and their places of burial.

The mysteries behind De Morgan’s mapping were unsolved until 2009 when this team started concrete excavations at the cemetery in an attempt to learn more about the archaeological and history of the site.

“Results at the first season showed that De Morgan map has substantial inaccuracies and a new survey is under way,” Nicholson said.

“The animal bones themselves have been sampled and preliminary results suggest that as well as actual dogs there may be other canids present. Furthermore the age profile of the animals is being examined so that patterns of mortality can be ascertained.”





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Nathan
14-06-2013 12:44pm
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I wonder in what timespan these dogs where placed there. 8 million seems a bit much.
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John
29-01-2013 05:24pm
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Silliness of religion
This just shows the silliness of religion. Hopefully, someday we'll evolve out of our primitive need to worship some type of deity.
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Anki Hagberg
14-01-2013 07:49pm
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Are the numbers correct?
8 million dogs sound very, very much. Is that really a correct statement?
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david
09-01-2013 04:29pm
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crap
one of the worst sca articles i've read... 8 mil dogs found!... in 1897...
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Saxon de Kock
09-01-2013 09:48am
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Ms.
How fascinating to learn about this new discovery of such an immense burial place for millions of dog mummies. Clearly in the pharaonic era, Egyptians valued their animals to the extent of mummifying them in the hopes of a direct line of communication to their God. It remains a sad fact that in Egypt today, dogs are not cared for nor valued at all in spite of being called 'Man's best friend' - certainly something the ancients agreed with.
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Adam
28-04-2013 04:27am
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agreed
agree with you that a huge portion of the population in Egypt disregard and disrespect the most perfect of Creatures on this planet. We would do wisely as a species to learn the value of love, forgiveness, faithfulness and loyalty from humble dogs. but Alas, the cruelty of human beings is astounding... the ancients did value life more than we do today. and yet we mock them. and yet they attained greatness despite primitive means without our so called 'amazing technology"!!
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Woden
09-01-2013 03:24am
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What's for dinner Mummy?
So many in one spot? Either sacrifice to the Gods or they were eaten to take the spirit of the Gods within oneself. Dogs are eaten to this day around the world. (mostly Asia who Egypt traded with)
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Sarah Mangan
07-01-2013 11:21pm
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Dog Mummies and how they fit in
As in today's society dogs are often pampered poochs ,there are still millions who have to be put down for a lack of homes, in a society that actually worshipped them ,how would they have dealt withthe inevietable problem of unwanted pets, may be the people who cared the most tried to find them homes but when they couldn't the treated them with the respect their beliefs would have called for , the respectful disposal of their remains. They worshiped them,I don't believe the past therories I have heard about the cats that they had them there to be sold to be sacrificed to a temple . More likely they loved them and tried to keep them alive. These ages are like the ages of animals that are disposed of today. As well as with the cats, they are generally a little older before people give them up to be destroyed, kittens are awfully cute,cats to some not so much.With puppies breeders often breed just to get enough to perpetuate aline they are trying to develope and kill the rest. I don't thi
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billy
05-01-2013 07:41pm
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dogs
anyone thaught that this might be a way for ordinary people to gain imortality after all ot all off the people could afford to be mummyfied most would most likely be cremated soon after death and these offerings would be offered in there place
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ALAN FISCHER, SR.
04-01-2013 02:49pm
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ANNIMALS
HOW WERE THE ANIMALS DISPATCHED
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Kevin
04-01-2013 07:11pm
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They were...
They were fed some falafel from a street vendor.

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