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In ancient Egypt, so many people worshiped Anubis, the jackal-headed god of death, that the catacombs next to his sacred temple once held nearly 8 million mummified puppies and grown dogs. The catacomb ceiling also contains the fossil of an ancient sea monster; a marine vertebrate that's more than 48 million years old, but it's unclear whether the Egyptians noticed the existence of the fossil when they built the tomb for the canine mummies.

Ancient Egyptians built the temple and catacomb in honor of Anubis in Saqqara, a burial ground in the country's ancient capital of Memphis. Archaeologists have also found catacombs with the mummified remains of such other animals as the ibis (long-legged birds), hawk, baboon and bull. Animal cults remained popular from about 747 B.C. to 30 B.C., but they declined during the Roman occupation. The cults likely gained support because they were uniquely Egyptian, and may have been a symbol of national identity when the country was invaded by the people of other nations, such as the Libyans and Persians. Many of the mummies have since disintegrated or been disrupted by grave robbers and industrialists, who likely used the mummies for fertilizer. Even so, archaeologists have found enough evidence to suggest that the Anubis animal cult was a large part of the ancient Egyptian.

Archaeologists have found some of the most curious canine burials ever unearthed in Egypt -- two well preserved dogs buried in pots about 3000 years ago. The dog pots were discovered at Shunet ez Zebib, a large mud brick structure located at Abydos. The site was built around 2750 B.C and is one of Egypt's oldest standing royal monuments. It was dedicated to Khasekhemwy, a second dynasty king. The site is also known for the thousands of ibises that were found buried in jars and deposited in the dunes nearby, and for the interments of other animals, mostly raptors and canines. A 2009 excavation revealed several jars containing animal burials. Of the many jars that were recovered, only 13 have been properly investigated. Of these, two contained "Houdini" and "Chewie," two well preserved animals -- most likely dogs – with their fur largely intact. Houdini, a large very furry creature, was found in a large two-handled pot, and was buried without any wrappings. He was found curled up at the bottom of the jar with its nose pointing toward its hind legs. The researchers nicknamed the creature Houdini after the magician as they could not figure out how such a large animal was crammed into this pot.

Not as well preserved as Houdini, the other dog, nicknamed Chewie, was found in a large jar filled with the broken pieces of another large pot, which was used as a packing material to keep the animal in situ. Both animals were mature -- probably around five years of age when they died. Sealed and buried in layers of protective sand, and cocooned in their jars, the animals' bodies were well preserved so that they could serve as vehicles for their spirits, or kas, for eternity.

(Jun 19, 2015, Source: LiveSience)

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