The Goat in Ancient Egypt

Egyptian Name:

Wndw or Wenedju



The ancient Egyptians referred to both goats and sheep by a single term, "small cattle," thereby ignoring their considerable differences. Goats far outnumbered sheep, being better suited to surviving in a desert environment.

Descended from the wild Bezoar Goat, domesticated goats in Egypt were kept for their meat, milk, skin, and hair, which was used for making ropes, wigs, rough bags, and low-status clothing. Goat skins served as water containers and flotation devices. Goat milk was used to make butter, cheese, and yogurt. There were two varieties of ancient Egyptian goat - one with short scimitar-shaped horns, and one with long corkscrew-shaped horns.

Goat meat, like mutton and pork, was the meat of the middle class and was not used for offerings to the gods or the dead. Goats were priced as less than pigs but more than sheep, and one-tenth of that of a donkey or calf.

nefert4.jpgThe goat was not associated with any god and was therefore not considered to be a sacred animal. Goat mummies wearing collars have been found in tombs, presumably favored pets. Wild goats were occasionally hunted by pharaohs and noblemen for sport.

Livestock of Ancient Egypt

The Meat of Ancient Egypt