Animals of all kinds are amply illustrated in Egyptian art, none more so than birds, in both secular and religious contexts and in hieroglyphic scripts. A great variety of bird species has for millennia made twice yearly migrations passing over Egypt, which is also an important overwintering area for many. These migrant birds, together with indigenous species were an abundant and easily exploited source of food for ancient Egyptians, for domestication and status display. Tomb scenes displaying birds provided as food for the deceased are abundant, as are procession scenes of offering with bearers bringing gifts of fowl. Many birds also had religious associations. Houlihan provides a systematic and unparalleled survey of all the bird life depicted by the ancient Egyptians in art and hieroglyphic writing, some 72 species (plus bats), with a list of known mummified species, and discussions on their religious and secular associations and many illustrations. Their present-day distributions are compared with that known from the time of the Pharoahs. A checklist of the birds of modern Egypt is provided by Steven Goodman.
Map of Ancient Egypt
Abbreviations and references cited
Appendix I The mummified birds
Appendix II A preliminary checklist to the Birds of Egypt, by Steven M. Goodman
Notes to the catalogue and checklist