Les ânes dans l’Égypte ancienne


fr Anthropozoologica 27 - Pages 27-39

Published on 01 December 1998

The Donkey in Ancient Egypt

This article presents an assessment of the donkey in the civilization of ancient Egypt, based on epigraphic and iconographic sources. A study of the terms used to designate the animal reveals a variety of forms by which the Egyptian language distinguished between individuals on the basis of sex and maturity, as well as other considerations relevant to the particular circumstances. The representations and texts testify to the importance attached to the donkey in everyday life, both in the agricultural cycle and in long-distance transport. Like the great majority of animals, the donkey also featured in medicines in which various parts of its anatomy were used. In the realm of sacred beliefs it was considered an impure animal and progressively its identity was assimilated with that of Seth, a particularly turbulent and dangerous divinity.


Donkeys, Ancient Egypt, sacred beliefs, Seth.

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