Grave Topics at Tails End from Blessing of the Animals (ISBN 1402729677)
Copyright 2007 by Diana L. Guerrero. All rights reserved. Reprint permissions click here.
"The Natural History Museum in Los Angeles estimates that the inclusion of pets in human burials began between 14,000 and 9,000 years ago. One example of such archaeological evidence is a 12,000-year-old Natufian burial site (Israel) where a person was found buried with a puppy. But animals were not always buried with humans.
According to Salima Ikram, an Egyptologist with the Cairo Museum, animal mummification in Egypt reached its pinnacle of popularity during its 26th dynasty (664-525 B.C.E.). Initially, birds, monkeys, cats, dogs, gazelles, and other creatures were mummified and interred in the tombs of their owners. Later, many creatures were also entombed along the Nile within animal-specific burial grounds. Some even warranted their own tombs.
The sacred animal necropolis at Saqqara revealed the remains of nearly one million mummified creatures. Other sites at Abydos and Thebes also served as necropolises for a variety of creatures. At the time the baboon, ibis, cat, bull, and crocodile were considered sacred living avatars of Egyptian gods and so warranted placement in tombs or within underground cemeteries. These practices contrasted with companion animals whose final resting places consisted of coffins positioned adjacent to family plots.
Mummification continued until the spread of Christianity caused a decline in the ritual. God's creatures became persecuted as agents of evil and companions of witches. This maltreatment directly contrasted with centuries of affiliation and favor that existed in the pagan cults. Little tolerance existed for animal burials and pet bereavement ceremonies in the Christian era.
Interestingly enough, mummification and preservation practices are currently experiencing a resurgence in the United States. This coincides with a rise in other compassionate practices related to pet care, particularly those related to end-of-life care..."
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