Ancient Dog Mummies

Anubis Statue
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicensePhoto by  Harlequeen

Mummies — We’ve all heard about mummies, probably the most common use for this is when referring to ancient Egyptian  tombs. But humans weren’t the only blessed beings that were mummified. Many dogs were also buried in a royal fashion and sometimes also found buried with their owners.
But during one specific excavation, scientists discovered a different kind of tomb. They called it Egypt’s Ancient Dog Catacombs. Here scientists discovered the remains of not just a few mummified remains of man’s best friend, but nearly eight million different animal mummies were buried there. These dog catacombs contained remains upwards to 2,500 years old.
The Dog Catacombs were discovered at the ancient royal burial grounds of Saqqara, buried beneath the desert. Now this discovery dates back over a century ago, but it wasn’t until recent years that scientists began to learn some very interesting things about this find.
Many of you may of heard of the ancient Egyptian guardian of the afterlife named Anubis. The complex tunnel system that was discovered contained mounds and mounds of animal carcasses. This tunnel system was dedicated to Anubis which kind of makes sense considering this God of the Afterlife was a jackal-headed man like figure. For those of you that aren’t familiar with a jackal, it’s quite similar to a dog in appearance.
Of course the remains that were discovered were extremely deteriorated and hard to distinguish any characteristics at the time of discovery. But according to research, it was said these dog mummies were piled and stacked sometime between the late sixth century B.C. and early first century B.C. Some of these piles or burial mounds were upwards of three feet in height and filled the side tunnels of this complex catacomb system.
But regardless of the condition of the remains that were discovered, they still had quite a story to tell as far as scientists were concerned.

What Was the Purpose for the Dog Mummies

It is believed that these huge piles of dog carcasses were a gift to the God Anubis, it was their attempt to gain the attention of Anubis and show him their loyalty. Something similar to the modern day lighting of candles, the belief is that ones prayers will be carried to God through the smoke. In a similar manner, the mummified dog’s spirits were said to carry a person’s prayers to the afterlife. They believed that since the dogs and Anubis were the same species, that his ear would be sensitive to the prayers carried by the dogs.


Were Dog Remains the Only Ones Found

Dogs were not the only animal remains found within the Dog Catacombs at Saqqara. Among the dogs were also jackals, foxes and ichneumon. Ichneumon are similar to a mongoose if you’re familiar with what that is. But even though there were other species of animals found there, the majority of the animals were dogs. This is the reason scientists believe this sacred place was dedicated to the God Anubis.


But there were still some other interesting finds among all these dog like remains. It appeared that worshipers of Anubis were not the only cult using this place for speaking to the Gods. Also found were baboons, cows, bulls and many others.


Were There Any Specific Characteristics Found

This large maze, referred to as the Dog Catacombs, was home to dog mummies of all ages and sizes. There didn’t seem to be any consistency as far as the characteristics of the animals were concerned.


Among the remains were long legged, short legged, long haired, short haired, it didn’t seem to matter. They seemed to be content to bury what ever was readily available at the time. It is said the Egyptians probably had puppy farms where they raised dogs specifically for the purpose of mummification and offering to the catacombs in another attempt to reach the ear of Anubis.


It is calculated that the priests would of had to mummify quite a large number of animals each week for pilgrims to carry to the catacombs as an offering. There did seem to be some dogs mummified with greater care than others, possibly depending on the purpose of the person’s prayer, or how important it was.


What About the Cats

As we know, cats held a very sacred place in Egyptian times and were often seen as gilded statues in tombs and final resting places. Well the dog catacombs were no exception. There was actually a small number of cat mummies also present and were thought to of been given a sacred status due to them taking up residence in the Temple of Anubis.


But one theory suggests that the cat mummies were fakes posing as dogs, being offered in hopes that Anubis wouldn’t notice they were not dogs. Speculation is that when the supply of dogs ran thin, they would wrap up cats and make them look like dogs, that’s quite a scam if you ask me…lol

And here’s one ironic moment I’ll leave you with… Tombs were originally built to protect the dead from roaming dogs and jackals. Strange how events can turn so quickly.
What do you think the purpose of this huge, dog burial site was?

Similar Posts

25 thoughts on “Ancient Dog Mummies
  1. I do know that the statue of Anubis can not be placed at home or in the office. This can badly affect the circumstances.

    1. Interesting Irkoko, thanks for sharing this info. Ancient Egyptian culture is really interesting stuff but it doesn’t fit too well into today’s way of living.

  2. this is really creepy. but something honoring as well:) i love that they are thinking highly of dogs. I am one of those people. I had no idea about this. This is a great topic. I always enjoy coming to your site and learning more.

    1. Thank you Doug, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and find lots of interesting topics on the blog. I’ve been in the middle of a big out of state move this last month. But I’m getting ready to start writing again, so check back for more strange and unusual subjects. 🙂

Comments are closed.