Part of the new Egyptian gallery (which I am ridiculously excited about and it doesn't even open until next year) will explore the ancient Egyptians' relationship with their environment, including animals. Ashley Cooke's sent me snaps of some of the objects that will feature in this section of the gallery.
The hollow base of this beautiful little bronze statue contained the mummified remains of a mongoose; admired for its ability to kill snakes and crush crocodile eggs. During the Late Period (664-525BC) statues like this one were mass produced and purchased by private individuals. They donated them to the priests of temples when they went on pilgrimages to different cult centres throughout Egypt - almost like a holiday I guess.
The ancient Egyptians respected the violent power of the crocodile, despite it being their close Nile-neighbour. The god, Sobek, was portrayed as a crocodile and had a temple cult centre in the Fayuum region, which is where this bronze Late Period figure was excavated.
The snake was similarly admired, mainly for its ability to seemingly regenerate after shedding its skin. This Late Period bronze statue of a snake contained the mummified remains of a snake within the hollow rectangular base (again, check out our Flickr page).