The Surprising History Of Pets In Ancient Civilizations.

The Surprising History Of Pets In Ancient Civilizations.

Pets have always held a special place in the hearts of humans, and their presence goes back much further than we might imagine. 

The surprising history of pets in ancient civilizations reveals the close bond between humans and animals that has existed for thousands of years.

The Importance Of Pets In Ancient Civilizations

Ancient civilizations, such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome, had a deep appreciation for pets and recognized their significance in daily life. 

Here are some fascinating aspects of the history of pets in ancient civilizations:

  • Companionship and Emotional Support: Pets provided companionship and emotional support to their owners in ancient times, just as they do today. 

Dogs were often the most popular pets due to their loyalty and protective instincts. 

Cats were also highly treasured, especially in ancient Egypt, where they were even considered sacred.

  • Symbolism and Religion: Pets played a significant role in religious and symbolic practices in ancient civilizations. 

For instance, in ancient Egypt, cats were associated with the goddess Bastet and were believed to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits. 

In Rome, dogs were seen as protectors and were featured in art and statues.

  • Practical Purposes: Pets in ancient civilizations served practical purposes as well. 

Dogs were utilized for hunting, guarding, and even as working animals. 

Cats were highly valued for their ability to control vermin, and it is believed that they were first domesticated for this purpose.

  • Burial and Funeral Rites: Pets were often included in burial and funeral rites, reflecting the deep bond between humans and animals. 

Ancient Egyptians, for example, mummified their pets alongside them to ensure their companions would accompany them in the afterlife.

  • Art and Literature: The significance of pets in ancient civilizations can also be seen in their depiction in art and literature. 

From ancient Egyptian paintings and sculptures to Greek and Roman pottery, pets were often featured, emphasizing their importance in society.

The history of pets in ancient civilizations reveals the timeless connection between humans and animals. 

Pets provided companionship, practical assistance, and even spiritual solace to our ancestors. 

Their presence in ancient cultures showcases the deep-rooted bond humans have always shared with the animal kingdom.

Pets In Ancient Egypt

Pets In Ancient Egypt
Pets In Ancient Egypt

From dogs to cats to birds, humans have a long history of keeping pets. 

But did you know that this practice dates back thousands of years, to ancient civilizations such as Ancient Egypt?

Egyptian Belief And Reverence For Pets

Ancient Egyptians had a deep respect and reverence for animals, which is evident in their religious beliefs. 

They believed that certain animals were sacred and had divine characteristics. 

As a result, pets in Ancient Egypt held a special place in society.

Cats, in particular, were highly regarded and worshiped as deities. 

The ancient Egyptians believed that cats possessed supernatural powers and were the guardians of the home. 

Legend has it that killing a cat, even accidentally, was a serious crime punishable by death.

Dogs were also cherished and admired in ancient Egyptian society. 

They were seen as faithful companions and were often depicted in tombs and tombs as loyal protectors of the deceased.

Symbolism And Representation Of Pets In Art And Literature

The Egyptians had a rich tradition of representing pets in their art and literature. 

Paintings and sculptures of cats and dogs can be found in tombs, temples, and other ancient structures. 

These representations were not only decorative but also symbolized the importance of pets in Egyptian culture.

For example, the goddess Bastet, who was often depicted as a lioness or a domestic cat, was associated with fertility, protection, and motherhood. She was also believed to bring good fortune and was one of the most popular deities in ancient Egypt.

In literature, pets were often featured in stories and poems. One famous example is the “Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor,” in which a loyal dog saves the life of a shipwrecked sailor. 

This story illustrates the bond between humans and their pets and emphasizes the importance of loyalty and friendship.

Overall, pets played a significant role in ancient Egyptian society. They were not just animals to be owned, but companions and spiritual beings. 

The Egyptians’ reverence for pets is a testament to the deep connection between humans and animals throughout history.

Pets In Ancient Greek And Roman Civilizations

Pets In Ancient Greek And Roman Civilizations
Pets In Ancient Greek And Roman Civilizations

Pets have been a part of human civilization for thousands of years, and ancient Greek and Roman civilizations were no exception.

 In these ancient societies, pets were considered valuable members of the family and were often kept for companionship.

In ancient Greece, dogs were particularly cherished as pets. They were not only loyal and protective, but were also seen as symbols of fidelity. 

Greek households often had a canine companion, and these dogs were even mentioned in Greek literature and mythology.

Similarly, in ancient Rome, pets were beloved and cherished. Dogs and cats were common companions, and they often slept in the same beds as their owners. 

Roman households also kept birds, such as pigeons and doves, as pets.

Pets In Mythology And Literature

Pets played a significant role in ancient Greek and Roman mythology and literature. 

In Greek mythology, the goddess Artemis was often depicted with a pack of hunting dogs by her side. 

Dogs were also the faithful companions of the hero Odysseus in Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey.

In Roman literature, the poet Virgil wrote about the loyalty and companionship of dogs in his works. 

Cats were also mentioned in Roman literature, with the poet Ovid writing about their playful and mischievous nature.

Pets were not only valued for their companionship in ancient Greece and Rome, but they also held religious significance. 

Animals, such as dogs, were often sacrificed in religious ceremonies, and pets were sometimes buried alongside their owners.

In conclusion, pets have always been a part of human civilization, and ancient Greek and Roman cultures were no exception. 

Pets were valued companions in households, and they played important roles in mythology and literature. 

They were cherished for their loyalty, companionship, and even held religious significance. 

The bond between humans and their pets has stood the test of time and continues to be cherished in modern society.

Pets In Chinese Civilization

Pets In Chinese Civilization
Pets In Chinese Civilization

The Concept Of Pets In Ancient Chinese Society

In ancient Chinese civilizations, pets held a special place in the hearts of the people. 

While the concept of pets may differ from our modern understanding, the Chinese viewed animals as companions and sources of comfort. 

These pets were not limited to cats and dogs but also included birds, fish, and even crickets. 

People formed emotional connections with their pets and considered them part of their families.

Pets As Symbols Of Prestige And Luck

In addition to being beloved companions, pets also had symbolic significance in ancient Chinese society. 

Some pets were seen as signs of good luck and prosperity. 

For example, the Chinese Emperor often had a pet dragon, symbolizing power and strength. 

Other pets, such as the Chinese Crested Dog, were believed to bring good luck and were kept by prominent families.

Pets were also seen as a symbol of prestige and social status. 

Owning exotic animals like peacocks was considered a demonstration of wealth and sophistication. 

These pets were not only kept for companionship but also to showcase the owner’s high standing in society.

The Chinese also believed that certain animals had spiritual qualities and could bring good fortune. 

For example, the Maneki-neko, or the beckoning cat, is a common sight in Chinese homes and businesses. 

It is believed to bring wealth and prosperity to its owners.

Ancient Chinese civilizations also had a deep respect for nature and animals. 

Confucianism, a major philosophical and ethical system in China, emphasized the importance of compassion towards all living beings. 

This belief system influenced the treatment of animals and the concept of pet ownership in ancient China.

Pets In Mayan Civilization

Pets In Mayan Civilization
Pets In Mayan Civilization

The Mayan civilization, known for its advanced art, architecture, and writing system, also had a deep appreciation for pets. 

Mayans considered animals as spiritual beings and believed that they played significant roles in their daily lives and religious rituals.

The Role Of Pets In Mayan Religious Rituals

The Mayans believed that by including animals in their religious rituals, they could communicate with the gods and access their divine guidance. 

Pets, such as dogs, turkeys, and macaws, were often sacrificed as offerings to appease the gods and ensure fertility, prosperity, and protection. 

These animals were highly revered and considered sacred messengers between humans and the divine realm.

Pets As Spiritual Guides And Protectors

Mayans also believed that animals had the ability to foretell the future and provide guidance. 

They observed animal behavior closely, believing that their actions and movements held significant meaning. 

For example, a howling dog was believed to be a warning of impending danger, while a bird’s flight pattern could be interpreted as a message from the gods.

Pets in Mayan society were also seen as protectors. 

Dogs, in particular, were valued for their loyalty and ability to guard their owners and homes. 

They were often buried alongside their human companions to provide protection in the afterlife.

The bond between humans and animals in Mayan civilization extended beyond practical and religious purposes. 

Some Mayan families kept pets purely for companionship, cherishing their presence and enjoying their playful nature.

It is fascinating to see the importance that pets held in the Mayan civilization. 

They were not only viewed as companions but also as conduits to the divine and protectors of the community. 

By recognizing the significance of pets in ancient civilizations like the Mayans, we gain a greater understanding of the deep-rooted human-animal connection that has existed throughout history.


In conclusion, pets have played a significant role in ancient civilizations, serving various purposes and forming deep bonds with humans. 

From ancient Egypt to ancient Rome, animals were revered and kept as cherished companions, symbols of power and prestige, and even worshipped as deities. 

The historical significance of pets in these civilizations cannot be understated, as they provided companionship, protection, and served as status symbols for their owners.

The ancient Egyptians worshipped cats, believing them to be sacred and protective against evil spirits. 

Cats were often mummified and buried with their owners to ensure a successful journey to the afterlife. 

Dogs, on the other hand, were valued for their loyalty and used for hunting, guarding, and as military aides. 

They were considered the companions of the god Anubis, the guardian of the dead.

In ancient Rome, dogs were not only beloved pets but also used for various practical purposes. They guarded homes and livestock, assisted in hunting and herding, and even accompanied soldiers into battle. Other animals, such as birds, fish, and monkeys, were also kept as pets in ancient Rome, signifying the owner’s wealth and status.

Ancient civilizations in South America, such as the Maya and the Inca, also had a strong bond with animals. 

Dogs and llamas were domesticated and used as pack animals, providing transportation and carrying heavy loads. 

These animals were also used in religious ceremonies, symbolizing the connection between humans and the divine.

The history of pets in ancient civilizations reveals the deep-seated human need for companionship and the desire to form emotional connections with animals. 

Pets not only provided practical benefits but also held symbolic and religious significance. 

They were revered, loved, and cared for by their owners, reflecting the humanity and empathy that existed even in ancient times.

Today, pets continue to hold a special place in our lives. They bring us joy, companionship, and unconditional love.

The ancient civilizations set the stage for the special bond between humans and animals that persists to this day. 

So, whether you have a cat, dog, bird, or any other furry or feathered friend, remember that you are part of a long and rich history of humans and pets, bound by love and mutual understanding.

Related Posts: Bizarre pets owned by historical figures.

The unique ways different pets show affection.

The Wild Ancestors Of Your Domestic Pets

The Heartwarming Bond Between Pets And Children