Antiquity

Research

The Catacombs of Anubis at North Saqqara

Paul T. Nicholsona1, Salima Ikrama2 and Steve Millsa1

a1 School of History, Archaeology & Religion, Cardiff University, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff CF10 3EU, UK (Email: nicholsonpt@cardiff.ac.uk)

a2 American University in Cairo, P.O. Box 74, Road 90, Tagammu 5, New Cairo, 11825, Egypt

Abstract

Although animal cults are a widely recognised feature of religion in ancient Egypt, little is known about the nature of the catacombs and mummies associated with the temples dedicated to animal gods. Here the authors present a biography of the Catacombs of Anubis at North Saqqara in Egypt, from their peak activity in the Late Period to their exploitation in modern times for raw materials. This research highlights the hitherto unappreciated scale of burial practices associated with animal cults, and the industries they supported and were supported by. The evidence suggests that the animal cults played a significant economic role, both in ancient Egypt and in subsequent eras.

(Received March 18 2014)

(Accepted July 14 2014)

(Revised July 25 2014)

Keywords:

  • Egypt;
  • Saqqara;
  • catacombs;
  • mummification;
  • dogs;
  • canids