Ancient Egyptians collected wild ibis birds for sacrifice, says study
Saturday, November 16, 2019
In findings published on Wednesday in the journal, an international team of scientists report captured ( ) from the wild for use in ritual sacrifice rather than domesticating the birds.
Millions of mummified ibis birds have been found in Egyptian tombs and catacombs in and , and Egyptologists have reported they were sacrificed to the god , who is often depicted with the head of an ibis, the way is shown with the head of a falcon and with the head of a cat.
Lead author Sally Wasef of Australia's explained to the press, "The ibis was considered [to represent] the god Thoth, the god of wisdom, the god of magic, the god of judgment, writing all sorts of things [...] If you had a boss that annoys you and you don't feel like you are getting a good judgment from him or you want fairness and justice, you go and ask Thoth to interfere and in return you promise to offer him an ibis, a mummified ibis, in his annual feast."
Some scholars have suggested Egyptians raised or farmed the birds to make them available in the necessary numbers. While some ancient Egyptian writers made passing mention of feeding bread and plants to ibises, according to Wasef archaeologists have not yet turned up any hatchery structures.
The team collected DNA samples from mummified birds collected from six separate catacombs including sites at Africa — ibises of this species disappeared from Egypt itself during modern times. They found the DNA sequences from the ancient birds to be relatively diverse. If the birds had been domesticated or even heavily farmed, they reasoned, the Egyptian specimens would have shown only a little genetic diversity., Saqqara, and Tuna el-Gebel with permission from the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquity, and several museums offered to send tissue samples from the mummified ibises in their collections. They were able to extract complete sequences from fourteen. These they compared to those of 26 modern ibises from different parts of
Wasif suggested, in likelihood, "next to each temple there was like a lake or a wetland — it is a natural habitat for the ibis to live in and if you are giving them food they will keep coming[.]"
According to the researchers, sacrifice and mummification of sacred ibises was common in Egypt from about 664 b.c.e. to 250 c.e., from the twenty-sixth dynasty into the early period of.
- Ancient Egyptians gathered birds from the wild for sacrifice and mummification" — , November 14, 2019. "
- Nicola Davis. "Experts crack mystery of ancient Egypt's sacred bird mummies" — , November 14, 2019
- Sally Wasef, Sankar Subramanian, Richard O’Rorke, Leon Huynen, Samia El-Marghani, Caitlin Curtis, Alex Popinga, Barbara Holland, Salima Ikram, Craig Millar, Eske Willerslev, David Lambert. "Mitogenomic diversity in Sacred Ibis Mummies sheds light on early Egyptian practices" — , November 13, 2019