A small bundle found at the feet of an ancient Egyptian mummy whose tomb was inscribed with the phrase "Hapi-Men" contained the remains of a young dog, according to University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology staff who have named the canine "Hapi-Puppy."
The approximately 2,300-year-old puppy, revealed during a recent CT scan, is thought to be one of the world's rarest mummified animals. Early Egyptians often preserved cats, birds and even crocodiles, but not often dogs.
Jennifer Wegner, a senior research scientist in the museum's Egyptian section, explained to Discovery News that unlike some of the other more commonly mummified animals, the ancient Egyptians "had no dog gods, per se, although certain gods, like Anubis, could take the form of a jackal."
"In this case, we think Hapi-Men simply wanted to be buried with his beloved pet," she said, explaining that "Hapi-Men" translates roughly to, "The Apis bull endures," referring to the bull god Apis.
Patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania must have been surprised when, just over a week ago, Hapi-Men, Hapi-Puppy were hauled into the hospital's CT scanning room. Computed tomography creates detailed three-dimensional images of objects by compiling multiple photographed "slices."
The researchers had no trouble sliding the mummies into the machine, but the mummies' length required two partial body scans with overlaps.
Janet Monge, acting curator of the museum's Physical Anthropology section, was delighted when the puppy images came through.
Wegner added that early Egyptians commonly depicted two general types of dogs: a greyhound-looking canine and one that looked more like a corgi. Another researcher, Samantha Cox, and other scientists plan to study Hapi-Puppy to more precisely identify it.
"The ancient Egyptians showed dogs being held on a leash, sitting under the chairs of owners, and they even sometimes listed their names, such as Brave One, Reliable, North Wind and even Useless," said Wegner. "Obviously people enjoyed close relationships with their dogs, and Hapi-Men must have been no exception."
Royals appeared to enjoy pets as well. Ruler Intef Wahankh II was immortalized in a stele with his three hunting dogs named Gazelle, Greyhound and Black. Images suggest Cleopatra may have preferred cats, which were also popular.
The scans showed Hapi-Men was 40-plus when he died, a relatively advanced age for his time. He was draped with numerous amulets, including a "wadjet eye" stuck in the middle of his forehead, heart-shaped objects, a scarab beetle, an Isis goddess figurine and objects in the shape of the four Sons of Horus, associated with renewal and healing.
The cause of Hapi-Puppy's demise remains unknown, but the dog's age suggests it was killed upon his master's death.
"We see this as a senseless slaughter today, but in ancient Egypt it would've been viewed very differently," Monge explained. "People then felt life on Earth was very short. Hapi-Men wanted to spend all of eternity with his dog."
© 2012 Discovery Channel