Egypt archaeologists discover 6,000-year-old cat mummies

Egypt archaeologists discover 6,000-year-old cat mummies
Cats held a special place in Ancient Egypt and were often mummified as religious offerings.
2 min read
11 November, 2018
An Egyptian archaeologist cleans mummified south of Cairo [Getty]

Egypt archaeologists discovered seven sarcophagi near Cairo at the edge of the step pyramid complex in Saqqara, with some dating back more than 6,000 years. 

Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany said on Saturday the discovery was made by an Egyptian archaeological mission during excavation work started in April.

Three of the tombs had been used for cats, he said, while one of four other sarcophagi discovered at the site belonged to Khufu-Imhat, overseer of the buildings in the royal palace.

Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the mission had also unearthed the first mummies of scarabs to be found in the area.

Two such mummies were found inside a rectangular limestone sarcophagus with a vaulted lid decorated with three scarabs painted in black, he said.

Dozens of cat mummies were also unearthed along with 100 wooden, gilded statues of cats and one in bronze dedicated to the cat goddess Bastet.

Cats held a special place in Ancient Egypt and were mummified as religious offerings.

A collection of wooden gilded statues of a lion, a cow and a falcon was also unearthed at the Saqqara site.

The antiquities department said wooden sarcophagi of cobras with mummies inside them were also discovered along with two wooden sarcophagi of crocodiles.

Archaeologists have so far this year excavated a number of relics across Egypt that include a 4,400-year-old tomb at the Giza plateau and an ancient necropolis in Minya, south of Cairo.

Authorities in Egypt hope new archaeological finds will help revive the country's struggling tourism industry, which has suffered due to the turmoil that followed the toppling of former dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

According to official data, Egypt received 8.3 million visitors in 2017, a figure dwarfed by the 2010 pre-revolution figure of 14.7 million.

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