Although we generally associate cats as sacred animals often mummified by the ancient Egyptians, other animals were often preserved as well, including ibises and monkeys, as well as dogs such as the one pictured above.
"Several reasons why Egyptians mummified animals was to eat them in the afterlife, as well as to be with pets, etc.," explained Cecile Callou, an archaeozoologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. "But above all, animals were considered as living incarnations of divine principles and, therefore, associated with deities. Dog mummies are generally associated with the gods Anubis or Wepwawet.”
Surprisingly, the animal was only one of more than 400 tombs surrounding a Roman fortress at El Dier by a French team led by Françoise Dunand and Roger Lichtenberg of the University of Strasbourg. Most of the main tombs there date back from the fourth century BC.
What made this particular pup stand out, however, was the fact that the mummy was infested with ticks and louse flies.
"Although the presence of parasites, as well as ectoparasite-borne diseases, in ancient times was already suspected from the writings of the major Greek and Latin scholars, these facts were not archaeologically proven until now," stated Jean-Bernard Huchet, an archaeoentomologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
Huchet also noted that while an ancient painting found in an Egyptian tomb dating back to the 15th century BC depicts a “hyena-like” animals infested with ticks, this is the first time there has been actual physical evidence of their existence in that part of the world. The only other known archaeological evidence of ticks was found in Arizona.