According to Khaled El-Enany, Egypt’s minister of antiquities, at least two mummified lion cubs, 74 wooden and bronze cat statues and various other animals were discovered in an ancient tomb 500 Kilometers South of Saqqara, at the Bubasteion necropolis near Luxor, Egypt.
Secretary-General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, mentioned that along with 75 wooden and bronze statues, the most distinguished finds included five mummified ‘big cats’. A CT-scan carried out on two of the mummies revealed that they were indeed lion cubs, with further studies to be carried out for more details on the historic hind.
— HNS (@histnovsoc) November 28, 2019
As strange as this discovery might sound, it’s not the first time mummified lions have been found in Egypt. According to a paper published by Nature, in January 2004 the first-ever mummified lions were discovered in the same region of Egypt. Nature’s research suggests that, “this important find at a site that was dedicated to the feline goddess Bastet (also known as Bubastis) confirms the status of the lion as a sacred animal during the Late and Greek periods.”
“The lion was a symbol of royal authority [but] lion imagery was also used in objects of daily life, such as chairs and beds. These might have been purely decorative, but it is likely there was a magical meaning to do with protection,” Connie Lord, an Egyptologist with the Animal Mummy Research Project at the Nicholson Museum of Sydney University, told National Geographic.
The site where the cubs were found is home to a 4,000-year-old tomb that belongs to a royal priest hailing from the fifth dynasty. The tomb is famed for its exceptionally well-preserved hieroglyphics. El-Enany and the countries tourist sector hopes these findings will increase tourism interest following years of political unease.
Feature image: Twitter/ @ChristiAnne67