The Birds of Ancient Egypt

“Animals of all kinds are amply illustrated in ancient Egypt, none more so than birds, in both secular and religious contexts and in hieroglyphic scripts. A great variety of bird species has for millennia made twice yearly migrations passing over Egypt, which is also an important overwintering area for many.

These migrant birds, together with indigenous species were an abundant and easily exploited source of food for ancient Egyptians, for domestication and status display. Tomb scenes displaying birds provided as food for the deceased are abundant, as are procession scenes of offering with bearers bringing gifts of fowl.

The Birds of Ancient Egypt
The Birds of Ancient Egypt

Many birds also had religious associations. Houlihan provides a systematic and unparalleled survey of all the bird life depicted by the ancient Egyptians in art and hieroglyphic writing, some 72 species (plus bats), with a list of known mummified species, and discussions on their religious and secular associations and many illustrations. Their present-day distributions are compared with that known from the time of the Pharoahs.

Hailed as a sumptuously produced and finely illustrated outstanding contribution to ancient Egyptian studies, this facsimile reprint of Patrick Houlihan’s 1986 comprehensive study makes a welcome return in the Oxbow Classics in Egyptology series.”

The Birds of Ancient Egypt (Oxbow Classics in Egyptology), by Patrick F. Houlihan, Steven M. Goodman

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