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From Egypt, Another Kind of Mummy

Exhibition of animal mummies in Saqqara includes crocodiles, birds, and cats
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 23, 2019 4:40 PM CST
An extensive collection of 75 wooden and bronze statues of cats of different shapes and sizes are displayed in Saqqara, south Giza, Egypt. Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019.   (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam)
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(Newser) – Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities on Saturday revealed details on recently discovered animal mummies, saying they include two lion cubs as well as several crocodiles, birds, and cats, the AP reports. Items from the new find were displayed at a makeshift exhibition at the famed Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, south of Cairo, near where mummies and other artifacts have been found in a vast necropolis. "We are finding here hundreds of objects," said Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany. "All of them are very interesting from the Egyptological point of view to know better this area." The Saqqara plateau hosted at least 11 pyramids, including the Step Pyramid, along with hundreds of tombs of ancient officials, ranging from the 1st Dynasty (2920 B.C.-2770 B.C.) to the Coptic period (395-642).

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told reporters that local archaeologists found a cache that includes hundreds of mummified animals, birds, and crocodiles. He said that among the mummified animals were two lion cubs and radar scans were needed on three others to determine that the mummies were also lions. Archaeologists frequently find mummified cats but the recovery of a lion is rare. In 2004, the first lion skeleton was found in Saqqara, revealing the sacred status of the animal in ancient times. Archaeologists also found wooden and bronze cat statues representing the ancient goddess Bastet and a rare large stone scarab, which Waziri described as "the largest all over the world."

(Read more Egypt stories.)

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