ancient egypt: history and culture
Ancient Egyptian bestiary: Geese
Main menu Main Index and Search Page History List of Dynasties Cultural chronology Mythology Aspects of Life in Ancient Egypt Glossary of ancient Egyptian terms Herodotus on the pharaohs Ancient Egyptian texts Apologia and Bibliography

  For best results save the whole webpage (pictures included) onto your hard disk, open the page with Word 97 or higher, edit if necessary and print.
  Printing using the browser's print function is not recommended.



Meidum geese

Meidum geese
Mastaba of Nefermaat
Source: Excerpt, TourEgypt site

    A few species of geese are indigenous to Egypt. Depictions of the greylag goose (anser anser), of a smallish Branta goose (red-breasted goose, branta ruficollis), and the larger White-fronted goose (Anser albifrons) have been found at Meidum.
    Domesticated geese were widely grown, for their meat, possibly for their eggs and certainly as sacrificial animals. Goose fat was probably occasionally also used for lubrication, though its mention in the Chester Beatty I papyrus where a lover offers all kinds of sacrifices to his beloved, among them A wild goose to the door-posts, its fat to the key is seemingly just that - a precious offering.

Three goose varieties. From top to bottom the Hp-goose, the rA-goose (Anser anser) and the px.t-goose.
Tomb of Ty, Saqqara
M. A. Murray, Saqqara Mastabas, Egyptian Research Account XI, Plate V

    Like other domesticated animals geese were driven home in the evenings after eating their fill in the local pond or canal and the lush meadows along them during the day
The goose returns from the pond,
When one comes to shut it in the yard.
The Instruction of Any
M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.2 p.144
    They often had the run of the house despite their belligerent and mischievous character. A teacher describes his pupil thus:
You are worse than the goose of the shore, that is busy with mischief. It spends the summer destroying the dates, the winter destroying the seed-grain. It spends the balance of the year in pursuit of the cultivators. It does not let seed be cast to the ground without snatching it [in its fall (?)]. One cannot catch it by snaring. One does not offer it in the temple. The evil, sharp eyed bird that does no work!
Papyrus Lansing
M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.2 p.169
    The first god, sometimes equated with Amen, was said to have emerged from a goose egg. Amen is at times even given the form of a goose, as are also Geb and Ptah, and as such referred to as the great honker. During the Graeco-Roman period Harpocrates was given attributes of the goose.

© 2002
February 2006
July 2004