A team of archaeologists from Cardiff University has uncovered a mass grave of mummified dogs and puppies near an ancient Egyptian temple and catacomb built to honor Anubis, the god of death.
Inside the ancient Egyptian temple of mummified dogs
The catacomb was built in the fourth century BC in North Saqqara, an ancient burial ground. Though the temple was discovered in the 19th century, it has not been fully explored until recently when a team of archaeologists from Cardiff University unearthed the catacomb’s secrets and its immense number of mummified inhabitants.
Archaeologists believe the mummified dogs and puppies found inside were sacrifices to the god of death, Anubis. The researchers estimated around eight million mummified remains had been in the temple at one point, although many had disintegrated from the passage of 2,500 years along with human interference in the form of grave robbers.
Mummified dogs and puppies sacrificed to Anubis
Lead researcher Dr. Paul Nicholson, an archaeology professor at Cardiff University, studied many of the mummified remains from the ancient catacomb. Nicholson noticed while some dogs had proper burials, though others were puppies and merely hours old when they were sacrificed.
Nicholson’s team of researchers have theorized these young offspring were most likely reared for the specific purpose of sacrifice to Anubis. Although it may seem a barbaric practice to raise puppies for sacrifice, a silver lining in their mummification is the lack of evidence of physical harm to the young pups. Unlike many cat burials where broken necks are prevalent, Nicholson and his team believe that these puppies died from dehydration and starvation.
Other Mummified Animals and Findings in the Mass Grave
Along with the mummified dogs and puppies, archaeologists made a rather shocking discovery of other animal mummies. Some four-legged animals like foxes and cats were among the sacrifices, which researchers say could have been seen as interchangeable for the dog sacrifices.
But even odder choices of sacrifices were found among the four-legged animals, including falcons and mongoose. Researchers believe that mythological reasons could easily explain the presence of these animals.
Another interesting find inside the catacomb was the fossil of an ancient sea monster. The mummified dogs may have been the main attraction for the archaeologists, but with the finding of a 48 million-year-old marine vertebrate inside, the ancient Egyptian temple has revealed an even bigger mystery.