In Ancient Egypt, Life Wasn’t Easy for Elite Pets
Animal skeletons found buried in a 5,000-year-old cemetery reveal injuries from beatings, restraints.
For ancient Egyptians, owning a menagerie of exotic animals conveyed power and wealth. But the remains of baboons, hippos, and other elite pets buried more than 5,000 years ago in a graveyard near the Nile reveal the dark side of being a status symbol.
Baboon skeletons found at one tomb bear dozens of broken hand and foot bones, hinting at punishing beatings. At least two baboons have classic parry fractures, broken arms that typically occur when trying to shield the head from a blow. A hippo calf broke its leg trying to free itself from a tether, and an antelope and a wild cow also show injuries probably related to being tied.
Ancient zookeepers “clearly had difficulty maintaining these animals,” says zooarchaeologist