English: El-Khokha necropolis, Theban Necropol...

English: El-Khokha necropolis, Theban Necropolis, Egypt Français : Nécropole d’el-Khokha, nécropole thébaine, Égypte (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Thebes was known in the ancient Egyptian language as Waset, and also as “No Amon.”  The Bible refers to it as the City of Amun, and to the Greeks, it was Diospolis meaning “Heavenly City.”   The Theban tombs are located in the mountains on the western side of the Nile.  A short boat ride across from the city of Luxor, the temple of Luxor and the temple of Karnak border the eastern side of the great river.  Tombs with depictions of cats are centered in four major burial sites:  Deir el Medina, Sheikh Abd el Qurna, Dra Abu el Naga, and El Khokha.

Theban mostaba tombs date back as far as the 3rd and 4th dynasties, but nothing remains of the Old Kingdom settlement today.  During that time, the main area for burials of nobles and royalty was Saqqara.  However, there is a tomb dating to the 11th dynasty in which a statue of a person named King of Hana, a Babylonian title, was found.  Imperiously sitting at the king’s feet is a cat named “Bouhaki”. (Simpson, 1903, p.5) “Bou” meaning house and “hak” the symbol of the divine healer, form the first cat name to appear in history. 

It was only during the Middle Kingdom 18th Dynasty through the late period that Thebes became an important site for nobles’ tombs where depictions of scenes from everyday life decorate their walls. In contrast, the wall paintings in the tombs of the pharaohs tend to concentrate more on religious scenes.  Consequently, it is from these nobles’ tombs that we are able to understand more about ancient Egyptians’ every day activities such as, their pass times of hunting and fishing, as well as dancing and attending banquets.  Of significance, however, is the fact that on these tomb walls are various depictions of cats that obviously played an integral role in every day life. 




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Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats



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