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Bronze branding iron

Branding iron


Length: 15.500 cm

EA 57321

Ancient Egypt and Sudan

    Bronze branding iron

    Perhaps from Thebes, Egypt
    18th Dynasty or later, after 1550 BC

    For marking cattle

    Cattle were the most common domesticated animal in ancient Egypt. Ordinary people kept them chiefly for their milk and for traction. Large herds were kept by the estates of the king, noblemen and temples. Brands like this one were used to identify the owner of the animals. The lioness head on the brand suggests that it was used to mark cattle belonging to a temple of the goddess Sekhmet.

    The animals were slaughtered and offered to the deity as part of the temple ritual. The meat was later divided up between the priests and temple officials as part of their pay. In this way the sacrificed animals provided food for the gods, and for those who served the gods within the temples.

    Meat was a luxury food for most people, perhaps only eaten on special occasions such as funerary banquets. Cuts of meat are often shown among the wealth of produce on offering tables in tomb decoration, and on stelae, as eternal sustenance for the owner.

    H.W. Müller, Der Waffenfund von Balâta-Sich (Munich, Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften In Kommission bei C.H. Beck, 1987)

    M. Stead, Egyptian life (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)


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