Saturday, November 23, 2019


TWO mummified lions, dating back about 2,600 years, have been discovered in a tomb full of cat statues and cat mummies in Saqqara, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced today at a press conference.

Hadrian and Antinous visited Saqqara in the autumn of 130 AD and may have seen the vast BUBASTEUM temple complex of the cat goddess Bastet in the Saqqara plateau cliff face overlooking the teeming city of Mennefer/Memphis Egypt.

"This is the first time [that a] complete mummy of a lion or lion cub" has been found in Egypt, said Mostafa Waziri, the general secretary of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, who led the team that made the discovery. 

Analysis is ongoing, but it appears the lions are fairly small ... about 3 feet (just under 1 meter) in length, Waziri said, suggesting that they were not fully grown when they died. 

Three other mummies that belong to large cats (the exact species is unclear) were found near the two lions. These three other mummies could belong to leopards, cheetahs or other forms of big cat. About 20 mummies of smaller cats were also found near the lion cubs.

The Antiquities Ministry announced the find at the foot of the Bastet Temple, dedicated to the worship of cats among ancient Egyptians, in the vast necropolis.

Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany described the discovery as "a (whole) museum by itself".

He said initial archaeological studies showed that five of the mummies are lion cubs.

Other artifacts uncovered in the dig included statues of an Apis bull, a mongoose, an ibis, a falcon and the ancient Egyptian god Anubis in animal form.

The artifacts belong to the 26th Dynasty which dates back to the seventh century BC, Enany said.

The trove also boasts a collection of ancient Egyptian deities in the form of 73 bronze statuettes depicting the god Osiris, six wooden statues of Ptah-Soker and 11 statues of Sekhmet, the warrior goddess of healing.

Egypt has sought to promote its unique heritage as a way to revive its vital tourism sector, which has been badly hit by political insecurity and attacks.

However, critics say archaeological sites and museums suffer from negligence and poor management.

More photos below:

1 comment:

  1. This is a fascinating find! Thanks for reporting on it.