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.

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Bronze branding iron

Branding iron


More information


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)


Length: 15.500 cm

Museum number

EA 57321



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