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Volume :18 Issue : 69 2000      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

The Ostrich in Some Ancient Near East Civilizations (in Arabic)

Auther : Alaael-din Shaheen

The Ostrich (in Ancient Egyptian Language: Niw / Var. in Latin: Struthio Came/us) was among the birds which the ancient Egyptians as well as other populations of the ancient Near East civilizations had recognized. It was known at the site till recent years, not far from the end of the last century. The ancient archaeological and archival sources offered significant and various hints to the existence of the ostrich in the hunting scenes, one of the famous subjects of the ancient rock drawings in prehistory, and in the remains of eggs that were found in some of the ancient sites of the Near East.

Moreover, the archaeological and textual evidences in historic periods: Early, Middle and Late Bronze Periods and Iron Age into late first Millennium B.C. contained evidences about the presence of that bird especially in the cultures of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. In addition to that, those evidences pointed to ostrich eggs as a source of nourishment or even as a utensil for drink.

The pictorial and textual sources, especially from the cultures of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, confirmed the domestication of the ostrich and the continous human efforts of Ancient Near East civilizations to control that bird and even to have artificial shelters to house them to be as a living reserve for ancient Egyptians hunting desert trips.

The pictorial sources in the daily-life scenes in the various Egyptian private tombs of the New kingdom (Late Bronze Period), especially at the necropolis of Thebes and Tell el-Amarna, Upper Egypt, shed more light on the presence of the ostrich and how ancient Egyptians got benefits from its eggs and feathers. Moreover, the depiction of the ostrich has been preserved on various cylindrical seals of Mesopotamia. It was found too on one of the Dilmum Seals, the characteristic element of the Ancient Arabian Gulf civilization, and even on the decorative elements of a few vessels.

It seems that the ostrich had some religious aspects in prehistory. However in the historic era, it is clear that the ostrich did not achieve any significant religious status in the ancient Egyptian religion, except in the use of the ostrich feather as a symbol for some Egyptian gods and goddesses. The equalization of that bird with the desert (The Red Land in Ancient Egyptian Language: Nit) seems to be the reason behind the low profile of that bird since Ancient Egyptians considered the desert to be a land of disorder and chaos.

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