Feline Friends: Divine & Domestic Cats in Ancient Egypt

Cats were beloved pets in ancient Egypt. In tomb scenes, they often appear under the chair of the tomb owner’s wife.

As attackers of vermin, they were seen as guardians of the home. In the divine realm they transformed into protectors of the sun god, who defeated Aphosis every evening.  It is in this guise we see them in the Book of the Dead, which provided the deceased with the means for a successful afterlife. In addition, they were associated with both Hathor and Bastet, powerful female deities.  Bastet in feline form, is often represented with her kittens, and was an emblem of fertility. She frequently holds a sistrum, and a lion-headed aegis,  so linking her to both Hathor and Sekhmet in a protective capacity.

This lecture will explore the role cats played in the domestic and divine realms in ancient Egypt, with particular reference to the links with women.

This talk is delivered by Dr Joanne Backhouse.

About Dr Joanne Backhouse:

I am a lecturer in Egyptology, specialising in the material culture of ancient Egypt. My research focuses on representations of the female form in two and three dimensions, but I have a wide interest in the evolution of style throughout Pharaonic history. I teach at the University of Liverpool, in the Continuing Education Department. I also lecture at a variety of venues in the North-West of England. In addition, I am Chair of Wirral Ancient Egypt Society.

Object of the Month

The Object of the Month lunchtime talks take place on the second Wednesday of every month and highlight different objects from our fine art and social history collections. Join us as we discover the hidden histories of items across our collections, from painting, print and sculpture to craft, costume and ceramics. The programme is delivered by Museum and Gallery staff as well as a wide range of outside expert speakers.

Object of the Month talks are freeDonations to The Atkinson Development Trust are welcomed.

See the full talks programme here.

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