Two mummified lions, dating back about 2,600 years, have been discovered in a tomb full of cat statues and cat mummies in Saqqara, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced today (Nov. 23) at a press conference.

Rare Lion Cub Mummies Revealed in The Latest Treasure Haul at Egypt’s Saqqara

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Rare Lion Cub Mummies Revealed in The Latest Treasure Haul at Egypt’s Saqqara

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities today announced two mummified lions, dating from approximately 2,600 years, in a tomb full of cat statues and cat mummies at Saqqara, at a press conference.

This cat statue, along with many others, was discovered in a tomb discovered at Saqqara in Egypt.

Mostafa Waziri, General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Egypt, said that “this is the first time that a lion or lion cube’s complete mummy is being found” in Egypt. who led the team that made the discovery. 

The analysis is ongoing, but it appears the Lions are fairly small — about 3 feet (just under 1 meter) in length, — Waziri said, suggesting that they were not fully grown when they died.

Three other mummies that belong to large cats (the exact species is unclear) were found near the two lions. These three other mummies could belong to leopards, cheetahs or other forms of the big cat. About 20 mummies of smaller cats were also found near the lion cubs. 

About 100 statues and statuettes were found near the burials, many of which depict cats. The cat statues are made of stone, wood or metal (such as bronze), and “most of them well painted, well decorated and some were inlaid with gold,” Waziri said. 

About 100 statues, many of cats, were found in the tomb. They are made of wood, metal or stone. A few are gilded with gold.
Several small cat mummies were found in the tomb.
Three large cat mummies and some small mummies can be seen at the archaeological site at Saqqara. It’s not clear if the lion mummies are shown in this photo.

A small ebony statue of the goddess Neith was also found within the tomb, a discovery that helped archaeologists determine the tomb’s date, said Khaled al-Anani, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities.

Neith was a goddess of the city of Sais, which was the capital of Egypt during the 26th dynasty (around 2,600 years ago), Anani said. 

A massive scarab-shaped artifact that appears to be more than a foot (30 centimeters) in diameter was also found in the tomb.

Scarab-shaped artifacts are frequently found in Egypt and were used as seals, amulets and jewelry. This particular scarab artifact might be the largest example ever found in Egypt, the archaeologists said. 

Catty location

The area of Saqqara where the tomb was discovered seems to be a cat hot spot, so to speak. Previous archaeological digs in the area have uncovered the remains of cat mummies and cat statues, and in 2004 a French team found the partial remains of a lion skeleton.

It seems that around 2,600 years ago, the area was a place of commemoration for the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet and her son the lion god Miysis, Anani said. 

While cats dominate this part of Saqqara, they do not rule exclusively, as previous archaeological excavations in the area have found mummies of other animals such as birds, Waziri said. 

In other parts of Saqqara, many other types of archaeological remains can be found, including Egypt’s first pyramid, a step pyramid built by Djoser, a pharaoh who ruled more than 4,600 years ago. It is the oldest pyramid constructed in Egypt.

Recently, several other interesting archaeological discoveries have been made at Saqqara, including a 2,000-year-old catacomb containing the burial of a “worthy” woman named “Demetria.” Recent discoveries also include a 2,500-year-old silver face mask gilded with gold and a 4,400-year-old tomb built for a “divine inspector” named “Wahtye.”


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