Crocodiles, known as sobek in ancient Egypt, are large carnivorous, aquatic reptiles with a tough hide, long snout, and a heavy tail. Native to the Caribbean and Africa, the crocodile resembles its relative, the alligator which chiefly inhabits the Louisiana Bayou.
1st century BCE
Widely endemic throughout Africa, crocodiles were historically a common sight along the Nile, ranging as far north as Lake Mareotis where they made their lairs along its banks. They were at times a menace to the Egyptians living along those shores; in 48 BCE, a group of crocodiles trapped a drunken Greek man, Klaudios, at the top of a half-submerged, broken column off the island of the Lost Crypt. The creatures, anxious to devour Klaudios, were all slaughtered by the Medjay Bayek of Siwa as he came to rescue Klaudios. In spite of their aggressive nature, crocodile eggs were sought after in Egypt for their medicinal properties, and in that same year, one egg had the value of 12 drachmae.
Despite the danger they posed, and even because of it, Egyptians worshipped crocodiles mainly in the form of the god Sobek; the most significant place of worship was the city called Krokodilopolis by the Greeks in the Faiyum Oasis.