There were lots of different animals in Ancient Egypt.
Some of these animals were local to the area where the empire began, while others were brought in from countries that the Egyptians conquered.
These animals were used for lots of different things. Ancient Egyptians had animals for pets, farming, and transportation. They also used them for food and even used their fat for cooking or oil.
The Egyptians made use of lots of different animals for lots of different reasons. This included pigs, geese, sheep, and goats.
These animals were kept for meat, milk, skins, fat, horns, and eggs. Even if an animal died or was killed, nothing went to waste, as all parts of an animal could be used for something.
Uses for Domesticated Animals
Ancient Egyptians were not usually very picky when it came to the kind of meat that they ate. In fact, the only meat that they did not eat regularly was pork.
They even used some parts of animals for different reasons that might come as a bit of a surprise. For instance, they used the dung from animals for fires or to fertilize their fields.
They would also use the skin of a goat for an unusual use. After a goat was skinned, they would use them for flotation devices or for carrying water.
Egyptians raised and kept several different forms of cattle for different uses. These included longhorn, short horn, African horned oxen, and Zebu.
Most of these cattle were used for farming purposes, though they were also raised so that they could be eaten as well.
Some cattle were also used in religious ceremonies as sacrifices. This was not all that common, however. Cattle were usually seen as highly prized possessions that needed to be taken care of.
Animals for Transportation
Starting in the 13th dynasty, Egyptians began to raise and utilize horses. Since horses were very expensive, only the wealthiest could afford them. Usually, horses pulled chariots and were seldom rode.
Most Egyptians preferred mules for transportation. These sturdy animals were very intelligent, could carry a lot of weight, and were cheaper to raise than horses.
Camels were also utilized for transportation. They were perfect for desert travel, as they could walk long distances while carrying heavy loads and not need a ton of water.
Like most civilized cultures, Ancient Egyptians liked to keep pets. They often had cats, ferrets, doves, and falcons. Members of the royal family sometimes kept lions and cheetahs as pets.
Some families also kept dogs, though they were usually thought of more for protection and guarding than as a family pet.
In Ancient Egypt, there were many different wild animals. This included crocodiles, hippos, jackals, and snakes. All of these animals were so abundant because of the Nile River.
There were also many types of birds and fish that called Ancient Egypt home.
Animals of Special Significance
While the Egyptians raised and used a large variety of animals during their reign, some animals were more highly thought of than others.
- Cats – cats were by far the most important and popular animal in Ancient Egypt. There were so many cats in Egypt during this time that each and every family had one as a pet.
Ancient Egyptians believed that cats watched over their children and their homes. As such, cats were not considered to be pets.
They were rather thought of as guardians since they helped to protect their family. Even though they were considered to be sacred, cats were not usually given names.
Ancient Egyptians thought of their cats as divine, or god-like. When they died, cats were usually mourned in the same way that a human would be.
Many cats were even mummified after they died, much like some humans during this time. Cats were so important in Egyptian society that it was a crime to kill a cat.
- Falcons/Hawks – Falcons and Hawks were thought of as symbols of power. Many of the different Egyptian gods are depicted with falcon or hawk heads, to show their importance.
- Scarab Beetles – Scarab beetles were used as symbols of good luck. They also symbolized the restoration of life. Read about a rare find of these artifacts in Egypt as reported by Reuters.
Scarabs were popular designs for good luck charms, seals, and for jewelry.
More Ancient Egypt facts.