In an incredibly rare find, archeologists in Egypt have discovered a treasure trove of mummified animals during the excavation of a tomb.
The sheer amount of relics discovered in this tomb could fill “a museum by itself”, according to Egypt’s minister of antiquities Khaled El-Enany.
This is a major find for Egypt, which includes dozens of statues and other precious artifacts in addition to the mummified animals.
The tomb, along with hundreds of artifacts, was discovered at the Saqqara necropolis near the Giza pyramids, just south of Cairo.
There, you’ll find the home of a 4,000-year-old tomb that apparently belongs to a fifth dynasty royal priest. The discovery of the tomb was released just last year, though at the time only the drawings were revealed.
For being 4,000 years old, the drawings were in incredible condition, and archeologists were hoping that similar quality was to be found as they explored further.
Finding a mummified cat in an Egyptian tomb isn’t exactly an uncommon occurrence. As most people know by now, cats were worshiped and revered in ancient Egypt.
They were believed to be magical creatures that brought good luck to anyone who housed and cared for them, and the cats were mummified and buried with their owners to continue to bring good luck as they traveled through the tomb of the deceased and onto the afterlife.
Finding a mummified big cat is a much more rare situation. The tomb contained 25 wooden boxes covered in decorative hieroglyphics with mummified cats. Five of the largest boxes actually contained the mummified remains of a ‘big cat’, or a lion cub.
The Ministry of Antiquities plans to explore the boxes further, hoping to gain more insight into where these cubs came from and what they could mean.
Big cats and small cats weren’t the only things that researchers uncovered in the tomb!
Three statues of crocodiles were examined and found to have actual small mummified crocodiles right inside of them. “meticulously mummified” scarab beetles were also found in the tomb.
Mummified cobras rounded out the collection of animals that the priest was buried with, along with dozens of statues of various gods. Over 70 statuettes were included that depicted the god Osiris, the Egyptian Lord of the Underworld and Judge of the Dead.
Egyptian officials hope this helps reignite some interest in tourism to the country, which has suffered a great deal since the Egyptian revolution in 2011.