CAIRO – 10 March 2021: Ancient Egyptians were able to mummify animals, including cats, monkeys, and crocodiles.
Experts believe that this is part of the ancient Egyptians’ rituals to appease the deity Sobek associated with the Nile crocodiles. He was depicted as either a full crocodile or a human with a crocodile head.
A recent study has been carried out on 19 mummified crocodiles from the Egyptian group at the Phoebe A Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. They were found in the late 19thcentury, by a foreign expedition in the ancient city of Umm Al-Barijat in the Fayoum Governorate.
The study stated that the mission at the time was more interested in studying human mummies. However, an expedition in 1899, led by Arthur Hunt and Bernard Greenville, found hundreds of mummified crocodile remains in Umm Al-Barijat.
Rather than rejoicing at the unexpected discovery, the expedition was disappointed with its findings. Rita Lucarelli, a professor of Egyptology at the University of California, Berkeley, noted that the team was very disappointed to find mummified crocodiles instead of human mummies, but, when they found papyrus stuffed inside mummies with texts written thousands of years ago, they became interested in what they found.
Instead of collecting the mummified animals, they began to open them, remove the papyrus, and get rid of the crocodiles.
The study confirmed that crocodiles were a powerful symbol of the ancient Egyptian religion. Scientists have now managed to get a fairly good idea of the role crocodiles played in Egypt's history, thanks in part to the unexpected discoveries that were made more than 100 years ago, according to Russia Today.
The study added that there is evidence on how the ancient Egyptians lived daily and to what extent they exaggerated to satisfy crocodiles, in the hope that their dedication would protect them from the crocodiles’ rage.
According to Professor Lucarelli, the crocodiles lurking along the banks of the Nile were a constant threat to the population in Egypt. They were considered very strong animals that could live on land and in water, and could attack very quickly. Male crocodiles were really huge, and could reach 6 meters in length.
According to Lucarelli, crocodiles used to breed a lot, so they also became a symbol of fertility. Egyptian priests embalmed them, carefully wrapping them in the same linen rolls used for humans.
To preserve their shape at death, the crocodiles were stuffed with papyrus scraps that they had previously written. These papyri, according to Andrew Hogan of the Umm Al-Barijat Papyrus Center at the Bancroft Library in Berkeley, reveal amazing details about the people of ancient Egypt.
Some of these texts include literary works as well as everyday documents such as letters, wills, petitions, and contracts.