Lion cub mummies feature in huge ancient Egypt find

GIZA, Egypt: Visitors observe mummies of cats and other felines displayed after the announcement of a new discovery at the Saqqara necropolis yesterday. – AFP

SAQQARA, Egypt: Egypt yesterday unveiled a cache of 75 wooden and bronze statues and five lion cub mummies decorated with hieroglyphics at the Saqqara necropolis near the Giza pyramids in Cairo. Mummified cats, cobras, crocodiles and scarabs were also unearthed among the well-preserved mummies and other objects discovered recently. 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. – AFP