ancient egypt: history and culture
Ancient Egyptian bestiary: Dogs
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Dogs

Source: British Museum website, excerpt- Nubian dog
Courtesy British Museum website, excerpt

    Dogs were used as hunting companions– Sinuhe describes how his Canaanite hosts looked after him and supplied him with meat, fowls and fish:
...one hunted for me (and) caught fish and birds for me, apart from the prey of my harriers.
Sinuhe [15]

Source: Excerpt, 'The Glory of Egypt' by M.Audrain, Vanguard Press, New York Source: M.Audrain The Glory of Egypt, excerpt

as watch and police dogs [13] or even in wars against the Nubians (cf. the picture on the right). They had at times individual names and were buried with their masters, as happened to Neb, whose stela dating to the first dynasty bears his name and effigy. At Abydos part of the cemetery was set aside for dogs near the graves of women, archers and dwarfs.
The dogs they bury each people in their own city in sacred tombs; and the ichneumons are buried just in the same way as the dogs.
Herodotus, Histories II
Project Gutenberg

Breeds

    The first dogs may have been imported into Egypt, as the country appears not to have had wolves which could be domesticated. At any rate, some records point to dogs having been imported later on. A tomb stela of Horus Wahenekh Intef shows the king with his dogs, which have Berber names and were likely imported from the West,[10] while Hatshepsut's sailors brought dogs from Punt among other riches,[11] and among the animals presented as Nubian tribute to Ramses II was a dog.[12]
    Various breeds enjoyed popularity during different periods of Egypt's history. A sloughi look-alike with a trumpet-shaped tail was widespread during the Old Kingdom. Short legged dogs began to appear during the 5th dynasty [8] and were all the rage during the Middle Kingdom while New Kingdom Egyptians preferred the small ketket, [1] or the fleet harrier,[3] which during the pre-dynastic seems to have had upright ears [8] and from the Old Kingdom on increasingly lop ears  [6] and whose speed was proverbial as in swifter than the harrier and faster than the shadow [2]. The dogs of later times were generally slender and medium sized, but large mastiff-sized and small spitz-type dogs were also found buried in the dog cemeteries.[8]

Not just man's best friend

    While the dog was on the whole a beloved companion, some canine traits, like swallowing regurgitated food were not viewed favorably, at least in a Roman Period story about Osiris. The jackal which had devoured part of the corpse of Osiris was called a dog, and it is unlikely that this designation was meant kindly:
One says about it: "It is a dog. It spat out what it had swallowed, (and) turned around to swallow it again." Ever since one says "dog" (yuyu, translit. jwjw) because it (translit. jwi.f jw) came to eat what it had spat out according to what its master had said, when it barked in front of him because of its reward. (When) its master learned what it had swallowed, he abhorred it, for it had swallowed the efflux of the corpse and the fingers of the tired of heart (=deceased, i.e. Osiris).
Mythological Manual for the Upper Egyptian nomes 7-16 [16]
    The grovelling nature of some dogs was also noticed and led to uncomplimentary comparisons with conquered peoples and their kings:
I have conquered the inhabitants of Wawat (northern Nubia) and captured the inhabitants of Medja (a nomadic Nubian people) (and) I have caused the Asiatics to walk like dogs (i.e. cringe and grovel)
The Teaching of Amenemhet [17]
    The modern saying of (not) biting the hand that feeds you, had its ancient Egyptian equivalent. Amenemope asks in his Teaching rhetorically:
Concerning the ration: the dog of its master, does it bark at him who has given it?
The Teaching of Amenemope [18]
though, as so often in these Instructions, other interpretations of this line are possible.

The gods and the dogs

    The Egyptians never clearly separated jackals from dogs, both Wepwawet and Anubis could have been either.
    The gods had their dogs too. Sopdet was the personification of Sirius, the Dog star, and Graeco-Roman depictions show her riding on a dog,[14] and the bark of the sun god Re was pulled by a dog.[9] The demon Baba is mentioned in a spell, and described as being followed by seventy-seven dark skinned dogs.[4]. In the Book of the Dead there is a request of the one combing Osiris' hair and keeping Horus' harriers to let the deceased pass,[5] and for some unknown reason part of a spell required Khepri, the Self-Created One, to give barking dogs to the tribunal judging the dead.[7]
Footnotes:
[1] Transliteration: ktkt-Srj, Wb 5, 146.6
[2] Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website: Totenbuchprojekt, Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften => pLondon BM EA 10477 (pNu) => Tb 024 line 5
[3] Transliteration Tzm, Wb 5, 409.13-22
[4] pGeneve MAH 15274, Recto (line 4,6)
[5] pTurin Museo Egizio 1791 Tb 114-165, Tb 121, line [1]
[6] In a desert hunt scene in tomb H24 belonging to Shepsi-pu-Min at Akhmim for instance.
[7] Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website: Totenbuchprojekt, Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften => pLondon BM 10793 => Tb 024, line [12,18].
[8] Kathryn A. Bard, Steven Blake Shubert, Encyclopedia of the archaeology of ancient Egypt, Routledge, 1999, pp.302f.
[9] G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, Heinz-Josef Fabry, Theological dictionary of the Old Testament, Volume 7, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1995, p.148
[10] James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Chicago 1906, Part One, §421
[11] Breasted 1906, Part Two, §265
[12] Breasted 1906, Part Three, §475
[13] Ian Shaw, Paul Nicholson, The British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, British Museum Press 1995, p. 97
[14] Manfred Lurker, Lexikon der Götter und Symbole der alten Ägypter, Scherz 1998, p.194
[15] Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website: Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften => 1. Erzählungen => Mittelägyptische Erzählungen => Die Geschichte des Sinuhe => Textzeugen des Mittleren Reiches => Papyrus Berlin P 3022 und Fragmente Pap. Amherst m-q (B) => Sinuhe, line 90
[16] F. Feder (ed.), After a transliteration and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website: Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschafte => späte Ritualbücher => Tempelbibliotheken => Bibliothek des Sobektempels von Tebtynis => pFlorenz PSI inv. I 72 => Mythologisches Handbuch für die oberägyptischen Gaue 7-16
[17] After a transliteration and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website: Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften => 3. Weisheitslehren => Mittelägyptische Weisheitslehren => Die Lehre des Amenemhet => pMillingen => Die Lehre des Amenemhet, line [3, 3]
[18] After a transliteration and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website: Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften => 3. Weisheitslehren => Neuägyptische Weisheitslehren => Die Lehre des Amenemope => 1. pBM EA 10474 => Die Lehre des Amenemope, line [26.6]
 

 
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