An Egyptian archaeological mission has discovered a cache of sacred mummified animals and five mummies of big cats at the Bubastian necropolis at Saqqara, Giza. The find was announced by Antiquities Minister Khaled Anani at a press conference attended by ambassadors and heads of foreign archaeological missions working in Egypt.
Preliminary studies, Mr Anani said, indicate that the big cats are likely lion cubs. He said X-rays and other tests proved at 95 per cent certainty that two of the mummies are those of eight-month-old lion cubs. “More studies will be conducted within the coming weeks to confirm the initial results,” he said.
“If studies truly prove that these mummies are of small lion cubs,” he pointed out, “it would mark the first-ever time that lion cub mummies have been discovered.”
Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, confirmed that of the five large mummified wildcats, two have been identified as lion cubs; the remaining three will be undergo studies to determine their species. “If it’s a cheetah, a leopard, a lioness, a panther – whatever, it will be one of its kind.”
Mr Waziri explained that the find included a huge collection of artefacts, featuring 75 wooden and bronze cat statues of different shapes and sizes and 25 wooden boxes with mummies of cats and wooden animal statues inside.
Mr Waziri said that a large scarab made of stone and two other small scarabs made of wood and sandstone were found, in addition to a wooden statue of Ibis. The find also included 73 bronze statuettes depicting god Osiris, six wooden statues of god Ptah-Soker, 11 wooden and faience statues of the lioness god Sekhmet as well as a beautifully carved statue of goddess Neith wearing the crown of Lower Egypt.
A relief bearing the name of king Psamtik I was also discovered along with a collection of statues of cobras, amulets, faience amulets of different shapes and sizes, wooden and clay masks of mummies, and a collection of papyri decorated with drawings showing goddess Tawert.
Small limestone coffins for Bastet, the cat goddess of ancient Egypt, and several Cobra statues were also discovered, he further added.
Mr Anani said the discovery is “a museum in and of itself.”
He said the artefacts discovered belong to the 26th Dynasty of the 7th century BC.
Another discovery, he said, will be announced next December.
24 November 2019