Monday, February 16, 2015

Fact Checkers' Fantasies (Sorry, Susan!)

 I'm currently reading 'The Globe--The Science of Discworld Book 2' by Terry Pratchett with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen. The series is quite enjoyable, interleaving tales from disc world with science from our world, but Stewart and Colin are not as careful with the facts as they should be. Several statements they have made are simply inaccurate. For example, they state that "To the ancient Egyptians, cats were tiny gods on earth, personified in the cat goddess Bastet."

Wrong! Sorry Susan and fellow cat lovers. This tale is much beloved by those who love their cats, but is historically and factually incorrect.  There were many animal headed gods and goddesses in Egypt. That did not mean that the animals were regarded as actual living gods.  Much has been made of the many mummified cats often found in Egyptian tombs. After all, modern cat worshipers argue, would the expensive process of mummification be applied if cats weren't gods?  But cats are not the only animals so mummified in large numbers. No one suggests that the Egyptians  worshipped ibises, spite of the many ibis mummies found. This is probably because very few people keep ibises as pets.

Furthermore, studies of those mummies have shown that most of the cats were killed by having their necks broken.  Odd way to treat your gods, isn't it? The answer is that it's ridiculous way to treat your gods. Even we Christians didn't sacrifice Jesus, the Romans did that for us.

Clearly, the cats and the other animals were killed as offerings to the real gods. Not gods, just symbols of the gods suitable for killing and mummification to appease the actual celestial gods.

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