In a 4,500-year-old pyramid complex near Saqqara, south of Cairo, archaeologists discovered dozens of mummified cats in seven previously undisturbed tombs. The cats were found along with a collection of mummified scarab beetles, gilded wooden cat statues, painted animal sarcophagi and other artifacts.
Sacred to Bastet
Today, dozens of intact mummies of all kinds are a relatively rare find to archaeologists, but mummifying cats and other animals have been common in Egypt for millennia. The Saqqara cats, like millions of others, were bred in Egyptian history to eventually educate the protective goddess Bastet, who is often seen in Egyptian art as a woman with the head of a lioness, or after about 1
Most of these once-widespread mummies were lost over the centuries by wild looting that peaked between the 1700s and early 1900s. The Europeans plundered hundreds of thousands of animal mummies, including baboons, cats, crocodiles and ibises, most of which were destroyed to produce fertilizers.
A collection of Ibisen played a role in the early debate on evolution. More recently, genetic studies on ancient Egyptian feline mummies have provided clues to how domestic cats have changed over the last thousand years and when (and how) the process of domestication of cats has begun. It is possible that this collection could help shed some light on some of these questions and learn more about Egyptian mummification and religious practices.
Rare Mummified Skarabs
Other ancient tombs have spawned countless mummified ibises and archaeologists have also found mummified baboons and crocodiles. But the scarabs are a bit more unusual. Archaeologists found two large beetles wrapped in linen and tucked into a limestone sarcophagus with a carved lid, along with a collection of even more mummified beetles in a smaller sarcophagus. Carved amulets, seals or figures of scarabs are common in Egyptian sites, as the god Ra is believed to have taken the form of a scarab to roll the sun over the horizon every morning. But actually preserved beetles are another thing.
"When we discovered these coffins a few days ago, they were sealed coffins with drawings of scarabs. I have never heard of them, "said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Ancient Times, to Reuters.
The Saqqara tombs contained, besides the mummified cats and Skarabs, over one hundred gilt wooden cat statues and one solid bronze, all bastets Archaeologists also found painted wooden sarcophagi with a mummified crocodile and two mummified cobras, as well as a selection of amulets, canopic vessels, pens and papyri that could help to learn more about life and death
] An Unopened Door
An undisturbed ancient Egyptian tomb is a rare find Archaeologists from the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities have found seven of them on a buried mound on the edge of the Saqqara pyramid for the past six months The complex was excavated as a necropolis For the capital of the ancient kingdom of Memphis, and the recently unearthed tombs are from the fifth dynasty of Egypt – the pharaohs line, which came to power immediately after the builders of the Great Pyramid and their neighbors in Giza. Work was resumed at the locations in early 2018 after a break in 2013.
The Department of Antiquities says its archaeologists have come up with a surprising find during the weekend as they prepare to announce the newly discovered animal mummies: an intact, sealed door with another grave behind. Since the facade and door remain intact, it is likely that living eyes have not been seen in the tomb for over 4,000 years. Archaeologists plan to open the complex together with a handful of others over the next few weeks.