Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs

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Seven sarcophagi, some dating back more than 6,000 years, have been discovered at a site on the edge of the pyramid complex in Saqqara, south of the Egyptian capital, archaeology officials announced Saturday.

Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a collection of mummified cats and scarab beetles
 in a series of ancient tombs [Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP]

Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany said the discovery was made by an Egyptian archaeological mission during excavation work started in April.




Three of the tombs had been used for cats, he said, while one of four other sarcophagi discovered at the site belonged to Khufu-Imhat, overseer of the buildings in the royal palace.

Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
The finds, dating back more than 4,000 years, were made at Saqqara, south of Cairo. The vast burial ground served
the city of Memphis – ancient Egypt’s capital for 2,000 years 
[Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP]
Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
Ancient Egyptians believed cats, and other animals, held a special
position in the afterlife
 [Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP]

Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the mission had also unearthed the first mummies of scarabs to be found in the area.




Two such mummies were found inside a rectangular limestone sarcophagus with a vaulted lid decorated with three scarabs painted in black, he said.

Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
A mummified scarab inside the tomb of Khufu-Imhat [Credit:Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]
Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
Some of the artefacts recovered from the tombs [Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities]

Dozens of cat mummies were also unearthed along with 100 wooden, gilded statues of cats and one in bronze dedicated to the cat goddess Bastet.




Cats held a special place in Ancient Egypt and were mummified as religious offerings.

Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
A brilliantly coloured mummy dating back more than 2,300 years seen on its wooden coffin
[Credit: 
Khaled Desouki/AFP]
Mummified sacred beetles and cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs
Cat statue found in one of the tombs [Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP]

A collection of wooden gilded statues of a lion, a cow and a falcon was also unearthed at the Saqqara site.




The antiquities department said wooden sarcophagi of cobras with mummies inside them were also discovered along with two wooden sarcophagi of crocodiles.

Source: AFP [November 11, 2018]

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