Egypt’s Tamed Crocodiles – in pictures

Egypt_Crocodile god Sobek
Sovk (Suchus, Cronos, Satrune); by Jean-François Champollion; 1823–25; Brooklyn Museum (New York City)

I really enjoyed this photojournal on The Guardian‘s website about crocodiles and the ancient art of crocodile raising in Nubia. Taming crocodiles was a part of the culture of ancient Nubia; and it is still done today in Nubia (northern Sudan /part of Southern Egypt). One of the deities of ancient Egypt was Sobek, who was represented with a human body and a crocodile head. He was associated with the Nile crocodile or the West African crocodile. Sobek was also associated with pharaonic power, fertility, and military prowess, but served additionally as a protective deity with apotropaic qualities, invoked particularly for protection against the dangers presented by the Nile, or intended to turn away harm or evil influences.

Head of ruling Pharaoh Sobekneferu

The strength and speed of the crocodile was thought to be symbolic of the power of the Pharaoh, and the word “sovereign” was written with the hieroglyph of a crocodile. It was thought that Sobek could protect the Pharaoh from dark magic. Coincidentally, when the cult of Sobek took off during the Twelfth and Thirteenth Dynasties, a number of rulers incorporated him in their coronation names, including the first fully attested female pharaoh – Sobekneferu. To learn more about Sobek and other deities of ancient Egypt, check out Wilkinson, Richard H., The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. (2003).

In ancient times, tamed crocodiles were kept in a sacred pool and hand fed choice cuts of meat and honey cakes and adorned with precious jewels. The pratique has not changed much over the centuries as you will see in the photojournal on The Guardian‘s website. Enjoy!

Nile Crocodile

9 thoughts on “Egypt’s Tamed Crocodiles – in pictures

      1. I have an old book – ‘Tales told near a crocodile’ by Humphrey Harman 1962. It’s a collection of traditional stories from round the Great Lake area. One of croc tales included is ‘Bukango and the Crocodiles’. But I’ve also read a more recent account in a travel book of someone travelling round Lake Baringo and meeting a boy who could call crocodiles. I’ve not got the details of that book. But my impression was that the knack is to imitate the call that hatching crocs make.


      2. Yes… I think you are right about imitating the call that hatching crocs make. I would definitely love to read this book of tales. I will see if they have it at the local library.

        Liked by 1 person

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