Animals & Natural World

A Cow by Any Other Name
By Jenny Cromwell
An archive from the Fayum dated to the 340s CE opens a window onto the life of a Roman garrison commander in Egypt. Flavius Abinnaeus was appointed to the command of the cavalry unit (ala) at Dionysias in the western part of the Fayum, and his professional and private activities are known from a number of papyrus documents that have survived. As important as this archive is and as much as it has been studied for Roman military history, a sale contract from this group catches the eye for a completely different reason. Soldiers named their cows. … Read more here.

A Donkey Called Rameses
By Jenny Cromwell
In the village of Deir el-Medina, the home of the workmen who built the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings, donkeys were big business. Read more here.

Bee Stories
By Jenny Cromwell
Whether it was for consumption, offerings to the gods, or for healing wounds, honey was important in ancient Egypt and so were bees. Read more here.

Camel, O Camel: On Camels in Ancient Egypt
By Jenny Cromwell
I recently bought my first ever Playmobil set: Egyptian Warrior with Camel. It’s only taken me thirty odd years. But I can’t resist a camel. And this kit evokes one of the key images that comes to mind when we think of ancient Egypt: the quintessential image of camels in front of the pyramids. Camels, however, were not common in the pharaonic period – they are not indigenous to Egypt. Read more here.

Caring for Cows in Ancient Egypt
By Jenny Cromwell
Tomb scenes and models show how important cattle were in ancient Egypt. From birthing to butchery, we see the experiences and uses of cattle. Read more here.

Ebony and Meretseger: On a New Kingdom Herd of Cows
By Jenny Cromwell
A sale document from the Fayum showed us that Roman soldiers living here named their cows, as discussed in a previous post. But, they were not the first people in Egypt to do so – Egyptians had been naming their cows for millennia beforehand! Read more here.

Kittens for Bastet
By Jenny Cromwell and Luigi Prada
On 20th April, either 202 or 178 BCE, an embalmer named Onnophris wrote to Machatas, an official (epistates) in the village of Tanis in the Fayum semi-oasis, concerning kittens he had donated to the cat-goddess Bastet (also known by her Greek name of Boubastis), or at least had intended to donate! Read more here.

Love in an Orchard
By Jenny Cromwell
The scene: young lovers escape the heat of the early afternoon soon for the shade of an orchard. Concealed among the shadows, sheltered under the trees, they lose themselves in each other. Nobody is present to witness their tryst, except for the trees. Read more here.

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