Archaeologists Reveal Rare Mummified Lion Cubs Unearthed in Egypt
by Jason Daley/Smithsonian.com
Over the weekend, the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry unveiled a huge cache of ancient artifacts and mummified animals—most significantly, the rare remains of at least two lion cubs—discovered in Saqqara, a necropolis located just south of Cairo.
According to a statement posted on the ministry’s Facebook page, the trove includes 75 wooden and bronze statues of cats; 25 decorated wooden boxes filled with mummified cats; and statues of animals and birds ranging from bulls to a mongoose, an ibis and a falcon. Crocodiles, cobras and scarab beetles are among the other mummified creatures found at the site. Archaeologists also uncovered a large stone scarab and two smaller wood and sandstone depictions of the sacred beetle.
Egypt’s antiquities minister, Khaled El-Enany, says the finds could fill “a museum by itself.”
Additional discoveries detailed in the statement are 73 bronze statues of the god Osiris, 6 wooden statues of the god Ptah-Soker, 11 statues of the lioness goddess Sekhmet and a carved statue of the goddess Neith. The cache also holds amulets, mummy masks and papyrus scrolls covered in drawings of the goddess Tawert. An item containing the name King Psamtik I dates many of the items to the 26th dynasty, which ruled Egypt between 610 and 664 B.C.