Tag: Cats in ancient Egypt

100 Years Ago, An Archaeologist Unearthed The Most Incredible Find In History

Howard Carter’s peers felt sorry for him.

The British archaeologist’s contemporaries watched him dig in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings year after year, grid by grid in what they were sure was a fruitless search for something that didn’t exist. Everyone knew the sand-covered necropolis had yielded all of its secrets. Everyone knew Carter was wasting his time — and the funds of his patron, the Earl of Carnarvon — looking for the tomb of an obscure, apocryphal boy king who allegedly ruled Egypt for nine years in deep antiquity.

After 15 years, the partnership between Carter and Carnarvon was about to end. Even the wealthy aristocrat had his limits, and after so much time and effort chasing an apparent mirage, Carnarvon declared he would pay for one final season of archaeological work in 1922.

Carter had been laboring in the necropolises along the Nile since he was a young boy and apprentice to the great archaeologists of his time. Aside from seasons that were cut short by war, the Egyptologist had spent three decades digging in those valleys. Now he was about to be out of a job and a patron.

Carter's notes
Howard Carter’s discovery made him the most famous archaeologist in history, but it also left him with the incredible task of preserving and cataloguing everything in the more than 3,000-year-old tomb. Here’s a page from Carter’s notes about a statue of Anubis. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Exactly 100 years ago today, Carter wrote a terse entry in his journal: “First steps of tomb found.”

Those steps descended to a door of limestone and plaster, marking the entrance to an antechamber. A second doorway lay sealed in the gloom, and after dispatching a letter imploring Carnarvon to make haste to Egypt, Carter waited for the arrival of his patron and chipped away at the second door, peering through a tiny hole.

With trembling hands I made a tiny breach in the upper left-hand corner. Darkness and blank space, as far as an iron testing-rod could reach, showed that whatever lay beyond was empty, and not filled like the passage we had just cleared. Candle tests were applied as a precaution against possible foul gases, and then, widening the hole a little, I inserted the candle and peered in, Lord Carnarvon, Lady Evelyn and Callender standing anxiously beside me to hear the verdict. At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold – everywhere the glint of gold.

The earl, sensing a shift in Carter’s mood, queried him: “Do you see anything?”

Carter paused to collect himself before answering.

“Yes,” he said. “Wonderful things!”

The rest is history.

It turned out the room Carter first glimpsed was yet another antechamber. It had been breached in antiquity and tomb robbers had taken some of its valuables before resealing it, but they hadn’t breached a second chamber, the one that contained what are now the most famous finds in archaeological history: The iconic gold funerary mask of King Tutankhamun, the ornate sarcophagus inscribed with prayers from the Egyptian book of the dead, a life-size statue of the boy pharaoh and other statuary, impeccably designed furniture, vases, funerary candle holders, textiles, canopic jars, even chariots and a model ship. There were cats too, including statues of felids big and small.

Tut coffin
A second coffin made of wood and gold encased the pharaoh’s body and was placed within the sarcophagus.

Everything was gilded, and everywhere Carter’s torch cast light was the glitter of gold. He had been vindicated. Subsequent rulers had almost erased Tut’s name from history, and many doubted he was a historical figure. Now Carter not only proved the boy pharaoh was real, he had discovered the best-preserved tomb in history, ignited renewed interest in ancient Egypt, and unearthed objects that would leave indelible marks on human culture.

For more about Carter’s historic discovery, King Tutankhamun himself and the impact of the incredible discovery as the world celebrates its 100th anniversary, here’s some further reading:

Funerary Mask of King Tutankhamun
The funerary mask of King Tutankhamun is perhaps the most recognizable and iconic artifact from ancient Egypt. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Leopard from King Tut's tomb
A sculpture of a leopard found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. Cats were important in ancient Egypt, and feline/felid imagery abounds in depictions of deities, statuary and motifs. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Worship Us, Oh Puny Humans!

Pain In The Bud

Dear Buddy,

Did you hear the news about the cat mummies and the big trove of cat statues found by archaeologists in Egypt? My dad says Egypt is a special place ‘cause that’s where humans used to worship us a long time ago. Is that true? Why did they stop?

Kitten in Kentucky


Dear KiK,

Your dad is right! Egypt is a magical land, a place where humans were once keenly aware of our status as the most awesome species on Earth.

Egypt is where you’ll find the biggest litter box on the planet. It stretches for miles and miles until finally the horizon reveals a huge weather-worn statue of a cat and three stone pyramids jutting out of the litter.

The Great Sphinx and Pyramids of GizaThe Great Sphinx of Giza keeps watch over the world’s most sacred litter box.

It is said that by pooping in front of the Great Sphinx and reverently burying…

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Archaeologists Find New Pyramid In Buddy’s Litter Box

CAIRO, East Litter Box — A new pyramid dating to the 3rd dynasty has been found buried beneath the sand in Buddy’s litter box, a university dig team announced in the scholarly journal Fecal Archaeology.

The find is significant not only because it reveals one of the few surviving artifacts of the Old Kingdom, but because it lies outside the so-called Valley of the Kings, an area rich with deuce deposits and hidden burial chambers, Egyptologists said Thursday.

“Previously King Poopankhamen, a 3rd dynasty pharaoh, was considered apocryphal,” said Ferdinand Lyle, an Egyptologist with the British Museum. “Now, thanks to the inscriptions found in the newly-discovered pyramid, we know King Poopankhamen did indeed exist, and is responsible for many of the most fabulous monuments in the eastern litter box region.”

catsegypt
Priceless statues of felines recovered from the newly-discovered pyramid in Buddy’s litter box. (Credit)

Of particular interest to archaeologists was an internal chamber of the Temple of Deuceamemnon featuring a cartouche extolling the excretory potency of Buddy.

The cartouche, Lyle said, proved Buddy was worshiped before the 4th dynasty pharaoh, Pooptolemy, founded the Cult of Budster.

“The inscriptions in the poop burial chamber speak of mighty nuggets of feces raining down from the sky,” Lyle said, “which was seen as a sign that Buddy was angry and signaled an impending yellow flood.”

heiroglyph
A hieroglyphic inscription reads: “And so as man angered the Buddy, the sky opened up and a yellow rain came pouring down.”

Still, not all were convinced to change their views in light of the newly discovered pyramid.

“It’s obvious we couldn’t have built those pyramids without the help of aliens, bro,” said Joe Rogan, who is best known for making contestants eat roaches on the short-lived show Fear Factor. “Like, when you get stoned and really think about it, it’s clear that aliens were here millennia ago and were worshiped as gods, like in the movie Stargate.”

What If Cats Had Opposable Thumbs?

Three robots on a sightseeing tour of post-apocalyptic, post-human Earth sit on a filthy couch in a decaying home and marvel at what’s in front of them.

“What’s the point of this thing?” one of the robots asks, leaning forward intently.

“Apparently there’s no point,” his tiny red droid friend says. “[Humans] just had them.”

“Well that’s understating their influence,” the third robot chimes in. “They had an entire network that was devoted to the dissemination of pictures of these things.”

The camera pulls back and we see what the robots are looking at — a cat, digging his claws into an old ottoman and stretching his back with a yawn.

The scene is from Love, Death and Robots, a new science fiction anthology series from Netflix. Each episode is an adaptation of a different short story from some of the best SF novelists working today.

Given the ubiquity of cats on the Internet, it’s probably not far-fetched to imagine archaeologists in the distant future — whether alien, machine or some sort of post-singularity humans come to see their primordial birthplace — would draw the conclusion that humanity built an instantaneous global communication network for the sole purpose of sharing cat images.

“All the evidence suggests primitive humans worshiped these quadrupedal, furry little beasts,” some expert on 21st century humanity might say.

In the Netflix episode [SPOILER ALERT!] the robots complete their tour at a nuclear silo, reflecting on humanity’s demise by its own hand.

But it wasn’t just nuclear winter that spelled doom for humans, the little red robot says: The nail in mankind’s coffin was bio-engineering cats to give them opposable thumbs.

The tomcat from earlier, who’d been tagging along with the robots and demanding they pet him, finally breaks his silence and speaks to the stunned robots.

“Yes,” the cat says, casually wiping a paw against his fur. “Once we could open up our own tuna cans, that was pretty much it for the human race.”

The episode ends with the cat conscripting the robots as his new servants, using a clever bit of leverage explained in an earlier scene.

So what would cats do if they had opposable thumbs?

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Mine would be into the treat bag like a crack addict, shoveling junk food in his mouth until he can’t eat anymore. He’d open up his own cans as well, no doubt, eating his way through all the delicious turkey.

He’d probably steal my phone not because he has any interest in using it, but because anything that takes my attention away from him Must Be Destroyed!

And he’d gain the ability to open every door, not just those with handles instead of knobs. A Buddy with opposable thumbs is a Buddy who’d never allow me to use the bathroom in peace.

As for Love, Death and Robots, the “3 Robots” story isn’t the only one in which cats play an important role. In another episode a team on an archaeological dig accidentally unleashes an ancient vampire. Bullets and explosives don’t even phase the undead, but cats — regular meowing house cats — cause it to recoil and flee in terror.

So remember: If you ever come face to face with a vampire, hide behind your kitty!