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Was this the world’s first zoo? Source: YouTube Screenshot / Smithsonian Channel.

Was This Ancient Egyptian Site The World's First Zoo? (Video)

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In the world of ancient mysteries lies a peculiar Egyptian burial ground that challenges our understanding of the past. Archaeologist Dr Renée Friedman and her team have discovered a prehistoric cemetery at Hierakonpolis where wild animals from diverse lands were held captive over six millennia ago. This eerie site, predating written language and the wheel, raises the intriguing possibility that it might be the world's first zoo. The animals, carefully tended and strategically buried, weren't mere companions but rather symbols of mystical power destined to escort a ruler into the afterlife.

The ruler, surrounded by a menagerie of creatures including leopards, baboons, and crocodiles, embarked on a journey to the beyond. Yet, this departure was not exclusive to animals; disturbingly, humans, women, and children alike, were sacrificed in this mysterious tradition. The uncovered graves paint a vivid picture of a lavish funeral complex, highlighting the unique rituals of prehistoric Egypt. This site challenges our assumptions, inviting contemplation on the complex relationship between ancient rulers, captive animals, and the passage to the next life.

Top image: Was this the world’s first zoo? Source: YouTube Screenshot / Smithsonian Channel.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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