Tag: Egypt

The Ancient Egyptians Lost A War Rather Than Hurt Cats

Before the great civilizational clashes at Thermopylae, Plataea and Salamis, there was Pelusium.

The strategically important city on the Nile Delta was where the Egyptians under Pharoah Psametik III made their stand against the invading armies of Cambyses II, the king of Persia, in 525 BCE.

Amasis II was the last great Egyptian pharaoh before Persian King Cambyses defeated his son, Psametik II, and took that title for himself, beginning two centuries of Persian rule over Egypt.

It was a sound decision: Pelusium was heavily fortified, with high stone walls and ramparts. The pharaoh dedicated tens of thousands of men to the city’s defense, lining the ramparts with archers, stone throwers and catapults designed to launch flaming projectiles at the attacking, lightly-armored Persians.

For his part, Cambyses faced the prospect of a long siege or a bloody frontal assault that would cost thousands of lives as his men were tasked with scaling the walls under fire.

But the Persian king knew the Egyptians were not only famously fond of cats, they believed cats were representations of deities.

In a shrewd early example of psychological warfare, Cambyses figured out a way to use felines to his advantage in battle.

Cats were everywhere in ancient Egypt: Goddesses like Sekhmet and Bastet were portrayed as lion- and cat-headed, while Egyptian artists and craftsmen produced statues, rings, pendants and hieroglyphic cartouches with feline imagery. The beloved pets of royalty and other powerful Egyptians were buried in their own elaborate sarcophagi, while regular people mourned the deaths of their family cats by shaving notches in their eyebrows.

An image of the Egyptian cat goddess Sekhmet carved in relief among hieroglyphic inscriptions.

Cats are found in virtually every significant ancient Egyptian archaeological site, often elaborately mummified alongside their humans, and Egypt is home to the largest and most enduring cat statue in the world, the Great Sphinx. Not only do weathering patterns show the Sphinx is older than previously thought, it’s believed the Sphinx was originally carved with a cat’s head, then later defaced in the image of a pharaoh. That theory is supported by the fact that the head is disproportionately small compared to the Sphinx’s body, indicating it was carved down from its original form.

An Egyptian hieroglyph for “miu,” an umbrella word for “cat” that could mean domestic or wild cats, including big cats.

Cambyses realized there was a way to turn the Egyptian fondness for all things feline to his advantage: He had his men round up thousands of cats and carry them into battle as if they were just another part of the soldier’s kit along with weapons and armor.

The Egyptians, who were ready to rain fire and death upon the advancing Persians, were distraught upon hearing the distressed mews of the thousands of felines below.

If they opted to fight they would be killing sacred animals who were avatars of some of their most important gods. If they surrendered Egypt would be subsumed into the growing Achaemenid Empire, joining the Medians, Babylonians, Elamites and other once-proud nations in bending the knee to Persia’s king.

An artist’s depiction of the battle shows Cambyses atop a horse as his men catapult cats over the city walls.

They chose the latter, bringing about two centuries of Persian rule in Egypt and leaving the Persians with no remaining obstacles between them and the loose confederation of city-states of Greece.

The kitties, however, would have their revenge against the Persians, for it was a man named Leonidas (“lion”) who led the fabled Spartan warriors to the narrow mountain pass of Thermopylae, where they and a few thousand fellow Greeks held the pass for three days against an invading Persian army that was the largest fighting force the world had ever seen. (Herodotus, the Greek historian prone to patriotic exaggeration, said the Persians were a million strong, drinking entire rivers dry en route to mainland Greece. Modern historians put the number at about 300,000.)

Regardless, the Lion of Sparta and his men inflicted so many casualties on the Persians that the latter’s morale was shattered, and held the pass long enough to give the other Greeks time to muster their army.

When the Persians finally broke through they sacked Athens and rampaged through Attica, until they met an unstoppable force: All of Greece united under the co-leadership of Athens and Sparta, with 50,000 pissed off Spartan Peers leading the defense. The combined forces of the Greek city-states routed the invading army.

We’re sure the Greeks broke out plenty of catnip for their kitties to join in the resulting celebration, and Herodotus just forgot to include that little detail in his histories.


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.”

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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.”

Worship Us, Oh Puny Humans!

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 Giza
The 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 the poop in the great litter dunes, one can gain the wisdom of the Sphinx and power over the red dot.

This new discovery solidifies our special status in Egypt and gives us insight into how humans worshiped our ancestors. As you can see, the bodies of the kitties are wrapped up. Those are called funerary blankets, nice and soft for kneading and sleeping.

The discovery was made when archaeologists opened the tomb of a royal priest in service to a pharaoh who ruled long ago, when humans knew their place and cats were viewed as da bomb. Inside the tomb, the archaeologists found two mummified lion cubs and the mummies of several kitties, as well as lesser animals like crocodiles.

Also among the treasures were 75 boxes of cat statues which were venerated by the ancient Egyptians.

Archaeologists are calling the find “unprecedented”:

In a rare discovery announced at a press conference by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities on Nov. 23, this dusty duo of long-deceased baby lions was found in a Saqqaran tomb filled to the brim with gold-decorated wood, stone, and bronze cat statues, and a cache of cat mummies.

The tomb was found near Giza’s Saqqara necropolis, which archaeologists believe was associated with the cat goddess Bastet and Miysis, who was her son and a lion god himself. Egyptians also worshiped another cat goddess, Sekhmet, who like Bastet had the body of a human woman and the head of a lion.

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The hieroglyphics read: “Hark, for there will come a handsome cat prince named Buddy, and ye shall worship him by presenting only the tastiest turkey.”

Statues-of-Lioness-Goddess-Sekhmet-Unearthed
This relief sculpture portrays the cat goddess Sekhmet.

But there’s one thing you should know, Kitten in Kentucky: Humans never stopped venerating us. They just need to be reminded once in a while with a good hard smack.

This is why, my dear kitten, humans work all day whilst we lounge, and it’s why they often spend more money on our food than they do on their own.

Rejoice, little one, for you are descended from deities!

Your friend,
Buddy

Bastet-the-Egyptian-
A statue of Bastet guards the eastern litter box region of Abydos.

sekhmet
This statue depicts Sekhmet, a lion goddess worshiped in ancient Egypt.