The mummified remains of 5 wildcats, including 2 lion cubs have been found at a site in Egypt. The remaining three wildcats are still to be identified using CT scans (like they use in hospitals to find out what is wrong inside someone’s body!)
Mummification is a process by which ancient Egyptians would preserve the body of important people or animals who had died by using an elaborate process of drying the body and then wrapping it in strips of linen.
This amazing find also contained statues of ancient Egyptian Gods and other animals, amulets, masks and scrolls as well as the mummified remains of crocodiles, cobras and scarab beetles, which were considered sacred in Egypt!
Images and statues of certain Gods and the name King Psamtik on one of the items found dates them back to between 610 and 664 BCE, more than 2000 years ago!
So, What Does This Mean?
The Egyptian authorities, and particularly the Department of Antiquities which is in charge of all archeological discoveries like this are very excited for a couple of reasons.
The mummies of the wild cats are the very first of their kind to be found intact in Egypt and this discovery supports the theory that ancient Egyptians used mummified animals as offerings to the Gods. They believed that animals were considered ‘blood sacrifices’ and would make the Gods happier than just a wooden or bronze statue and so make the Gods favour them with more good luck.
The Egyptians are also hopeful that the discovery at Saqqara, which is south of Cairo increase tourism in the country. After Egypt fell victim to political protests and violence back in 2011, the number of visitors has reduced drastically, and the economy is suffering as a result.
The Grand Egyptian Museum, close to the discovery site at Saqqara is scheduled to open next year after a long delay and the authorities hope that this amazing find, which has over 70 bronze and wooden statues and other artefacts as well as the mummified remains that archeologists and mummy-experts say can ‘fill a museum by itself’ will increase cultural tourism into Egypt and make the museum a success.