GMMG - Greater Manchester Museums Group

GMMG - Greater Manchester Museums Group Show menu
Back Show search

Cat Mummy

664 BC - AD 100

Of all the animals that they mummified, the Egyptians are perhaps most closely associated with the cat. This example is unprovenanced, but may have originated from a number of cat cemeteries. Bubastis, in the eastern Delta, was the cult centre of the cat goddess Bastet, and Herodotus states (II, 67) that all dead cats were to be brought here for burial.  Large cemeteries for felines were also located at Stabl Antar (near Beni Hasan in Middle Egypt) and at Saqqara.

Cat mummies were in principal intended as a votive gift to the gods. Beginning in the Late Period, a booming industry catering to the demand from pilgrims for sacred animal mummies was active at sites like Saqqara. Thus large numbers of cats were reared for slaughter, and commonly appear to have died young, through either strangulation or a blow to the head.

While some cat mummies have individually-wrapped limbs, most have their legs and tail bound up within a cylindrical package such as this. Most attention was paid to the head, with linen, plaster and ink used to model details in imitation of life. Criss-crossed patterned wrappings are typical of the Roman period.