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.
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!