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Ancient Mummified Lion Cubs Discovered in Egyptian Tomb

Ancient Mummified Lion Cubs Discovered in Egyptian Tomb


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Egyptian authorities have announced the rare discovery of mummified lion cubs, big cats, cobras and crocodiles near Saqqara necropolis which date back around 2,600 years.

The cache of ancient mummified animals includes dozens of mummified cats and birds, an enormous mummified beetle reported to be “three to four times” the normal size and 75 wooden and bronze cat statues.

The mummified large cats were found close to the remains of an adult mummified lion discovered beneath the Saqqara necropolis in 2004 and while two have been identified as lion cubs three more require further analysis to determine their species.

A Guardian report quotes an excited Mostafa Waziry, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Antiquities, saying that if these three animals are identified as cheetahs, leopards, lioness’ or panthers, it will be “one of its kind” in ancient Egypt.

Mummified cat found in Egyptian tomb (Andrea Izzotti / Adobe Stock)

Animal Blood Sacrifices

Dr Salima Ikram is an Egyptologist and mummy expert at the American University in Cairo and she said the animal mummies date to the Ptolemaic period that ended in 30 BC. At that time in ancient Egypt worshippers either held mummified animals as actual deities, or they mummified creatures in order to offer them to their gods. This, according to Dr Ikram would have more potency as it was a “blood sacrifice” compared to the perceived magical energies associated with stone or wooden images.

In April this year I wrote an Ancient Origins news article about a similar discovery when archaeologists uncovered dozens of mummified cats and mice among a stash of around 50 animals laid to rest in an ancient tomb about 390km (242 miles) south of Cairo near the Egyptian town of Sohag. This tomb was built for a man named ‘Tutu’ and his wife who lived in the early Ptolemaic period, which ended with the Roman conquest in 30 BC and like the new discoveries greatly added to Egyptologists understanding of animal worship and mummification rites.

  • Egyptian Cat Goddess Bastet, Protector of the King
  • The Veneration and Worship of Felines in Ancient Egypt
  • You Don’t Always Find What You’d Expect in a Cat Mummy

Part of the stash of mummified cats, birds and mice found in the tomb in Sohag. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities

Evolution of The Cat Goddess

The tomb in Sohag contained a range of mummified animals and birds including more than 50 mummified mice and cats and even a mummified falcon which informed all creatures great and small were scarified and worshiped. Following the ritual path and evolution of the cat goddess, according to G. D. Hornblower’s 1943 book The Divine Cat and the Snake in Egypt “ Mafdet' was the first cat-headed deity worshiped during the First Dynasty (2920–2770 BC). Regarded as protector of the Pharaoh's chambers against snakes, scorpions and all things evil, Mafdet was often also depicted with a head of a leopard.

The later cat deity Bastet was worshiped from at least the Second Dynasty (2890 BC) onwards and was depicted with a lion’s ( Panthera leo's ) head and a wall painting in the Fifth Dynasty’s burial ground at Saqqara shows a small cat with a collar suggesting to archaeologists that African wildcats were tamed kept in the pharaonic quarters by the 26th century BC. And reflecting real world occurrences, as time unfolded in ancient Egypt, the once wild cat goddess herself became tamer and was worshiped as ‘Bast’.

Goddess of Egypt, Bastet. Credit: MiaStendal / Adobe Stock

The Mummified Cats Might Lure Tourists

Egyptian officials hope that their recent announcement will help to boost the country’s image abroad and ultimately that these ancient mummified lion cubs and cats will encourage tourists to continue visiting Egypt as the country aims to bring back its 14 million visitors a year who came to the country in 2010, before the 2011 revolution which overthrew former autocrat Hosni Mubarak. An almost final nail in the coffin of Egypt’s flagging tourist industry occurred after Metrojet flight 7K9268 was brought down close to the resort town of Sharm el Sheikh in 2015, but things are turning around, fast.

According to a report in Alborsaanews, last year Egypt saw a surge in arrivals with 11.3 million people visiting Egypt and this was in part inspired and caused by the UK lifting its ban on flights to Sharm el Sheikh that had been in place since 2015. “It’s wonderful promotion for Egypt,” says Khaled El-Enany, Egypt’s antiquities minister, who told The Guardian that be believes these new mummies will spark curiosity among potential visitors to the country in the run-up to the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum close to the Saqqara necropolis.


Very rare lion mummies discovered in Egypt

It’s difficult to imagine prides of lions roaming Egypt today, but as late as 1000 B.C. the big cats idled on the banks of the Nile—and some even lounged in palaces as domesticated pets for the royals. The lion (Panthera leo) was associated with the sun and the pharaoh, the most powerful elements of life and death in ancient Egypt. And even after Egypt’s climate became drier and the prides migrated south, the lion continued to feature prominently in Egyptian culture.

“The lion played a tremendous role in the iconography of ancient Egypt,” says Conni Lord, an Egyptologist with the Animal Mummy Research Project at the Nicholson Museum of Sydney University. “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.”

Because depictions of lions were so common in ancient Egypt, researchers have long wondered why only one lion mummy to date has ever been discovered among the millions of mummified animals the Ancient Egyptians interred. Now, a team of archaeologists led by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities has revealed five more lion mummies, likely cubs, discovered at the Bubasteion necropolis—literally, a catacomb of cat mummies—in Saqqara.

The mummified lion cubs, which are each about three feet in length, are believed to be eight months old. They were found together with a large collection of wooden and bronze statues of cats and other mummified animals, including cobras and crocodiles. The Supreme Council of Antiquities said that the artifacts likely belonged to Egypt’s 26 th Dynasty (664-525 B.C.)

The lion held a privileged status in ancient Egypt, regarded as the fiercest warrior in the wild and a symbol of both danger and protection. Pharaohs were known to take part in lion hunts to demonstrate their own supremacy, including Amenhotep III, who claimed to have killed 102 lions in the first ten years of his reign.

The big cats were also held as pets in royal complexes, with Ramesses II and Tutankhamun both illustrated with a sitting lion. The Greek author Aelian famously wrote that when he visited Saqqara he saw lions in temples that were fed oxen and sung to while they dined.

Even so, the lion was never associated strongly with a single deity such as the ibis to Thoth or the jackal to Anubis. The mummies found in Saqqara are likely connected to the cat goddess Bastet and her sibling Sekhmet, the warrior goddess with the face of a lioness, says Lord.

This missing link to a specific deity and cult could be the reason why lion mummies are encountered much less frequently than other animals, she adds. Another explanation could be that they simply haven’t been discovered yet.

“There are really no practical reasons for the lack of lion mummies,” Lord says. “The ancient Egyptians were perfectly able to mummify a creature of this size. The Apis bull, a cult animal, was mummified using the very best techniques including removal of the organs.”

The only difference with mummifying a lion is that the organ removal would be smellier since it’s a carnivore, said Salima Ikram, an archaeologist at the American University in Cairo, who performed a CT scan on some of the lion mummies.

Ikram says that the significance of the find is “extremely important” as it will give researchers new insights into how lions were captured in ancient Egypt, and whether they were bred or traded.

“It is quite possible that as the Saqqara excavation continues more lion mummies will come to light,” she said. “Classical writers spoke of lions [being] mummified in Egypt and some scholars, including myself, have been looking for a cemetery of lions.”


Mummified exotic animals found in Egyptian tomb

The mummies of cats and other felines are displayed after the announcement of a new discovery carried out by an Egyptian archaeological team in Giza's Saqqara necropolis, south of the capital Cairo, on Nov.23, 2019. (Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images).

In a necropolis south of Cairo, archaeologists have discovered a dazzling array of mummified animals, amulets, and other artifacts.

The most fantastic item that has been found, however, was a pair of mummified lions clubs. Long heralded as a sacred animal, this is the first time that lion cubs have been discovered, which makes this find one unprecedented in modern archaeology.

A possibly more impressive find was five mummified big-cats, which CT scans revealed to be lion cubs.

Lion cubs are quite unusual to be discovered inside tombs, namely because of their sacred status in ancient Egypt.

“For the first time, the complete mummy of a lion or a lion cub has been found in Egypt,” said Mostafa Waziri, general secretary of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The cubs are thought to be about 2,600 years old, and their small size suggests the big cats were not fully grown before they were mummified.

Markings on the mummified cubs indicate that they were entombed during the Late Period, 664 to 332 BCE.

Included in the excavation were 25 boxes decorated ornately with boxes and filled with mummified cats of all breeds, sizes, and ages. An additional 75 boxes full of wooden and bronze statues of cats were also discovered.

Two mummies of the ichneumon, a species of Egyptian mongoose, have also been discovered at the site.

Khaled El-Enany, Egypt’s antiquities minister said, that the discovery could “fill a museum by itself.”

A museum of its own

In addition to the surprising discovery of the big cats, the most recent excavation of Saqqara has also unveiled some other fascinating finds.

Statues depicting birds and animals ranging from bulls to mongoose and an ibis and a falcon have been unearthed at the site as well, making it one of the most important and prominent in modern Egyptian archaeology.

Archeologists have also discovered a large stone scarab and two small wooden and sandstone descriptions of Egypt’s sacred beetle.

The scarab artifact is more than a foot in diameter, making it one the largest ever discovered and possibly giving clues as to what else remains to be found.

In addition to the animals discovered, the team unearthed 73 bronze statues of the god Osiris, the god of fruitfulness and life renewal.

The Egyptians of antiquity trusted that Osiris gave them the gift of barley, which was an essential food for survival. Eleven statues to the lioness goddess Sekhmet and a carved figure of the goddess Neith were huddled together in one of the tombs.

Strips of papyrus with dedications and prayers to the goddess Taweret show a hippopotamus with the tail of a crocodile.

Taweret was the goddess who was thought to protect women during pregnancy and childbirth . It is unusual to find any indication of Taweret inside a royal tomb since most ancient Egyptians worshiped this goddess in their own homes.

It is estimated that some of the items date to the 26th dynasty of King Psamtik I, which ruled Egypt between 601 and 664 BCE.

The big cats are not the first of their kind to be discovered in the Saqqara region.

In 2004, French archeologists discovered a part of an adult lion skeleton, which helped to underpin the animal’s sacred status in ancient Egypt.

Of the new finds, Salima Ikram, an Egyptologist at the American University in Cairo, said: “It’s one of the most exciting series of finds in the world of animal mummies ever.”

Because ancient Egyptians believed that making devotional offerings as mummified animals were so essential, the lion cubs might reveal that the big cats were lured from the wild.

Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany, flanked by the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri (L), announces a new discovery carried out by an Egyptian archaeological team in Giza’s Saqqara necropolis. (Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images).

Ritualized animal sacrifice was a common practice in ancient Egypt, so much so that there was a real industry surrounding the practice.

Millions of cats and dogs were bred in captivity specifically to be ritually mummified.

A recent study on ibis mummies revealed that most of the known animals of ancient Egypt were mummified at some point.

Sally Wasef, a researcher from Australia’s Griffith University, said: “Some were pets and in the same time gods like cats, dogs, falcons, monkeys. Some were just god’s incarnations on earth, like snakes and crocodiles.”

Inscriptions discovered in Saqqara suggest that the priest was once a prominent figure during the reign of King Nefer-Ir-Ka-Re .

King Nefer-Ir-Ka-Re’s pyramid complex remained unfinished, and another king, Nyuserra, later incorporated its valley temple.

Finished or not, the remains of Re’s complex have revealed that his records were written in ink and contain some of the earliest recorded remnants of an initial hieratic script –- the cursive form of hieroglyphics.

Wahtye is also thought to have been the king’s supervisor and the person responsible for inspections of holy boats.

“The ‘exceptionally well preserved’ drawings south of Cairo show scenes depicting Wahtye with his family and his mother,” said al-Anani.

Saqqara’s treasures

Saqqara is a cat hot spot of sorts for archaeologists. Previous digs have uncovered extensive remains of cat mummies and a dazzling collection of cat statues.

Some experts believe the region was a place of worship for the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet and her son, the lion god, Miysis.

As archaeologists continue to work the site at Saqqara, head of the excavation Mostafa Waziri, remarked that there were plenty of drawings that showed “wine and pottery making, musical performances,” and other activities.

Saqqara has also revealed several additional exciting discoveries, including the burial of a woman named Demetria.

Dating from the time the Romans ruled Egypt, this catacomb was magnificently decorated. It had carvings showing the buried woman wearing a glamorous dress and carrying grapes.

One of the most incredible finds at Saqqara — a mummy wearing a gold face mask — was unearthed last year, further proof that this site has so much to offer modern excavations.

The silver face mask was inlaid with gold and was found alongside a mummification workshop, mummies, and other sarcophagi. The eyes of this dazzling mask contain calcite, a black gemstone, and obsidian.

Ramadan Badry Hussein, head of the Egyptian-German team which discovered the mask said that the finding could be “called a sensation,” since very few masks containing precious gemstones have ever been discovered.

The mask was found undisturbed on the face of a mummy, which was hidden inside a wooden coffin. Though the casket was in poor condition, Egyptologists have been able to determine that the man inside was a priest who served the goddess Mut.

On the outside of the coffin, a painting of Mut has withstood the test of time. Mut was the ancient Egyptian sky goddess , world mother, and the consort of Amun-Ra.

Among believers, she was considered the mother of all gods and Queen of all goddesses.

Saqqara contains so many different burial shafts, some of which extend more than 100 feet deep. This means that as technology and imaging continue to improve, so too will archeologists’ chances to study the area.

In addition to the amazing lion cub discovery, Saqqara is also, where archeologists have found a mummification workshop area.

Experts believe it is a place where people were mummified before being buried deep in the tomb’s shafts.

This workshop contains bowls and measuring cups with the names of chemicals and oils used in mummification.

Inside the working areas were two large basins that were most likely used to dry mummies and prepare bandages.

As the vast burial ground of Saqqara continues to give up its buried treasures, there is no telling what else remains to be found.

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Crocodiles, cobras, and scarabs

The archaeologists' recent findings include other mummified animals too.

The team discovered three statues of crocodiles with the remains of small mummified crocodiles inside, mummies of cobras and birds, as well as "meticulously mummified" scarab beetles.

The tomb also included a massive scarab-shaped stone artifact more than a foot in diameter. According to Waziri, this particular stone scarab might be the largest ever found in Egypt.


Lion Mummy Found In Egyptian Tomb

For the first time, archaeologists have discovered a preserved lion skeleton in an ancient Egyptian tomb, demonstrating the exalted reputation enjoyed by the king of beasts more than 3,000 years ago.

A research team led by French archaeologist Alain Zivie found the lion's remains in 2001 as they excavated the tomb of Maia, wet nurse to Tutankhamun, the "boy king" popular with museum visitors today for his opulent gold funeral relics. He ruled for 10 years and died around 1323 B.C.

"It confirms the status of the lion as a sacred animal," Zivie reported in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

Inscriptions in ancient Egypt mention the breeding and burial of lions, but no lion remains previously had been found, said Zivie, who is with the French Archaeological Mission of the Bubasteion.

The tombs associated with King Tut are situated in a burial ground south of Cairo, across the Nile River from Memphis, ancient Egypt's first capital. Zivie found Maia's elaborate tomb in 1996.

The complete and undisturbed lion skeleton was found in an area of the tomb dedicated to the cat goddess Bastet. The section also contained vast quantities of bones of humans and animals, including many cats.

Trending News

The lion's bones were not wrapped in linen bandages familiar to human mummies. But the bones' position, along with their coloration and mineral deposits on their surface, are similar to those of other mummified cats discovered elsewhere at the burial ground.

Zivie said the worn condition of the bones and teeth suggest it lived to an old age and was kept in captivity. The lion is not believed to have belonged to Maia.

The lion may have been considered an incarnation of the god Mahes, the son of Bastet, Zivie said.

Hunters nearly exterminated regional lion populations by 1100 B.C. Commemorative artwork has been found telling of how the pharaoh Amenhotep III killed more than 100 lions during a single hunt. Ramses the Great had a pet lion named Slayer of his Foes.

An Egyptologist who did not work on the specimen said the discovery is an important addition to knowledge of ancient ritual.

Archaeologists previously have found vast cemeteries for baboons, ibis, fish, smaller cats, dogs and crocodiles. Mummifying a large animal like a lion would have been an expensive and elaborate task.

"This is not any old lion. It's an important lion," said Emily Teeter, an Egyptologist at the University of Chicago.

Other researchers said Zivie's report leaves several questions unanswered.

Robert Pickering, a forensic anthropologist with the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo., said the bones' discoloration is irrelevant because they would have been affected by the tomb's environment over thousands of years. The lack of linen wrapping and soft tissue preservation also does not support mummification, he said.

"It seems to be treated different from other animals that were entombed as part of ritual," Pickering said. "Maybe this lion's importance is as a family pet rather than as a representative of a god. The context doesn't seem to fit."

First published on January 14, 2004 / 3:22 PM

© 2004 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Very rare lion mummies discovered in Egypt

Until today, only one lion mummy had been found by Egyptologists. Were mummified lions rare by nature, or have we simply just not found them yet?

It’s difficult to imagine prides of lions roaming Egypt today, but as late as 1000 B.C. the big cats idled on the banks of the Nile—and some even lounged in palaces as domesticated pets for the royals. The lion (Panthera leo) was associated with the sun and the pharaoh, the most powerful elements of life and death in ancient Egypt. And even after Egypt’s climate became drier and the prides migrated south, the lion continued to feature prominently in Egyptian culture.

“The lion played a tremendous role in the iconography of ancient Egypt,” says Conni Lord, an Egyptologist with the Animal Mummy Research Project at the Nicholson Museum of Sydney University. “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.”

Because depictions of lions were so common in ancient Egypt, researchers have long wondered why only one lion mummy to date has ever been discovered among the millions of mummified animals the Ancient Egyptians interred. Now, a team of archaeologists led by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities has revealed five more lion mummies, likely cubs, discovered at the Bubasteion necropolis—literally, a catacomb of cat mummies—in Saqqara.

The mummified lion cubs, which are each about three feet in length, are believed to be eight months old. They were found together with a large collection of wooden and bronze statues of cats and other mummified animals, including cobras and crocodiles. The Supreme Council of Antiquities said that the artifacts likely belonged to Egypt’s 26 th Dynasty (664-525 B.C.)

The lion held a privileged status in ancient Egypt, regarded as the fiercest warrior in the wild and a symbol of both danger and protection. Pharaohs were known to take part in lion hunts to demonstrate their own supremacy, including Amenhotep III, who claimed to have killed 102 lions in the first ten years of his reign.

The big cats were also held as pets in royal complexes, with Ramesses II and Tutankhamun both illustrated with a sitting lion. The Greek author Aelian famously wrote that when he visited Saqqara he saw lions in temples that were fed oxen and sung to while they dined.

Even so, the lion was never associated strongly with a single deity such as the ibis to Thoth or the jackal to Anubis. The mummies found in Saqqara are likely connected to the cat goddess Bastet and her sibling Sekhmet, the warrior goddess with the face of a lioness, says Lord.


2,000-year-old pregnant mummy discovery 'shocked' scientists

Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed a rare mummy menagerie, including the wrapped remains of cats, crocodiles, scarabs, cobras and two lion cubs.

The discovery was made in the tomb of a 7th century royal priest in Saqqara, south of Cairo, according to Khaled El-Enany, Egypt’s minister of antiquities.

The collection — 25 small wooden mummy caskets adorned with hieroglyphics, along with 75 more boxes filled with wooden and bronze statues of Egyptian deities — could make-up a “museum by itself,” El-Enany said Saturday.

The archeologists report that the artifacts date back to the 36th dynasty, considered ancient Egypt’s renaissance era.

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities shared information about the findings on the Facebook over the this weekend. The most extraordinary pieces, according to the ministry’s secretary general Mostafa Waziri, is the five preserved big cats, which CT-scans revealed were lion cubs.

Researchers pointed out that this would have been considered prized and extremely rare pets during that period, pointing to a 2004 discovery of a lion skeleton by French Egyptologist Alain Zivie, who then proved the lion’s high regard in ancient Egypt.

The “meticulously mummified” animals were found buried alongside dozens of animal statuettes made of sandstone, wood and bronze, such as 75 cats of various shapes and sizes sculptures of the apis bull deity, a mongoose, ibis, falcon and the god Anubis, formed with the body of a man and head of a jackal.

The dig also unearthed a “large” stone-carved scarab beetle, a sacred symbol of rebirth in ancient Egypt, plus two more small smaller versions made of wood and sandstone, as well as several other amulets made of wood and clay.

Deities featured in the cache included 73 bronze figurines of the god Osiris six wooden statues of god Ptah-Soker, 11 wooden and ceramic statues of the lioness god Sekhmet and goddess Neith wearing the crown of Lower Egypt.


Righting a wrong

The painted wooden sarcophagi are of a type known as stola coffins, after a set of red straps depicted on them. The garment would have been worn by people connected to the Amun priesthood, one of ancient Egypt’s centres of power, dating back to the tenth century bc .

Stola coffins have intricate designs, which include complicated religious iconography, as well as details of personal information about the deceased. Cooney says it is crucial that the mummies have been found in their coffins, “potentially correcting, if not reversing, a century of colonial academic wrongs by Egyptologists who separated coffins from mummies and didn’t or wouldn’t study the human remains properly”.

A computed-tomography scan of one of the lion-cub mummies. Credit: Hamada Elrasam/AP/Shutterstock

“Those interested in coffins will be able to look at the type of wood, varnish and paints those studying ancient pathologies will be able to examine the mummies’ health,” Cooney says. “For somebody like me, who studies the lives of past people, it helps bring those lives back to life,” she adds.

But such anticipation is tempered by the knowledge that researchers outside Egypt will not yet be allowed to work on the finds, because the government is restricting research access to Egyptian institutions for now.

When Nature asked whether international researchers could contribute to the study of the discoveries — in line with the practice at many museums and heritage research institutions around the world — antiquities minister Khaled El-Enany replied: “We won’t do a call [for proposals] on this study.”

One of the mummified felines found in Saqqara, Egypt. Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty

The team that found the coffins and the animal mummies was led by Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. Waziri is not ruling out international involvement in research later on. But he confirms that any work will be led by Egypt’s own researchers.

Willeke Wendrich, chair of African cultural archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who became president of the International Association of Egyptologists this year, hopes that those in charge will eventually allow researchers from other countries to access the finds. Another Egyptologist, who asked to remain anonymous, urged the government not to delay, saying, “Science benefits from a multiplicity of talents.”


Egypt: ‘Extraordinary’ mummified animal ‘changing ancient history’ found by archaeologists

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Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb: Netflix teases documentary series

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The 2,600-year-old find was made in Bubasteum, a Ptolemaic temple complex dedicated to the cat goddess Bastet in the cliff face of the desert boundary of Saqqara. Workers had already uncovered the &ldquoonce-in-a-generation&rdquo discovery of the tomb of Wahtye, who served under the third king of the Fifth Dynasty &ndash Pharaoh Neferirkare. But during the excavations, led by a team of Egyptians, they also found a shaft filled with mummified cats believed to have been given as offerings to Bastet.

Trending

The findings were revealed during Netflix&rsquos new series &lsquoSecrets of the Saqqara Tomb,&rsquo after worker Hamada Shehata Ahmed Mansour was pulled back up from the shaft.

But one of the animals left the team puzzled.

Mr Mansour said: &ldquoLike anyone else, I&rsquove seen cats of many sizes.

&ldquoBut a cat that is absolutely massive like this? I&rsquove never seen that before.

A mysterious animal was discovered in Egypt (Image: GETTY/NETFLIX)

The animal was pulled from a shaft in Saqqara (Image: NETFLIX)

&ldquoWe need to get the bones tested to see what it is.

&ldquoIt&rsquos so big, I can&rsquot imagine there was ever a cat this size.&rdquo

It was taken to Professor of Egyptology Salima Ikram to be studied, who was also baffled by its sheer size.

She said: &ldquoWow, that is unbelievable.

&ldquoI see a moustache, this is really interesting.

Workers transported the goods to be studied (Image: NETFLIX)

Related articles

&ldquoOn the heads of other cat mummies, there might be a scarab (beetle) up here, but it doesn&rsquot look like a scarab.

&ldquoThis one looks more like a bee or something. It&rsquos really strange, it&rsquos unusual.

&ldquoYou can see fur in this section, golden yellow. It can&rsquot be [a cat], surely.&rdquo

The team performed a scan of the mummified animal to determine what it was and made an incredible breakthrough.

Prof Ikram explained: &ldquoThat&rsquos the head, you can see it&rsquos a baby because the teeth are still mostly up inside the gums. These are big canines.

Salima Ikram took a look at the mummified animal (Image: NETFLIX)

&ldquoThe backbone &ndash nothing is fused, this is definitely a baby and the backbone is arched.

&ldquoIf it were stretched out properly, it would be more than a metre from head to tail.

&ldquoThis is no domestic cat, it is too big for a lynx, maybe the design is different because this is a different species.

&ldquoLook at the way lions frown, maybe this is supposed to be like that, and they put the wings on because they&rsquore used to having the scarab.&rdquo

The expert went on to detail why she believed it could be the mummified remains of a lion cub.

Analysis revealed it was likely a young lion cub (Image: NETFLIX)

She added: &ldquoLion cubs have long noses as well, and the colour matches.

&ldquoThis is the first time in the known history of mummification that we have a lion here in Saqqara. A mummified lion.

&ldquoWe think, based on the markings that are painted on the face, that this is a baby lion.

&ldquoThis is just extraordinary because there are stories of lion catacombs, and some of us have been looking for years for this.

&ldquoNow, the logical place is the Bubasteion, it&rsquos mind-blowing to think of what this lion may represent in terms of our understanding of ancient Egyptian culture, economy, religion.&rdquo

Later analysis confirmed the find was a lion cub and was dated to around 600BC.

It was later confirmed to be a lion cub from around 600BC (Image: NETFLIX)

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Prof Ikram noted: &ldquoIt changes how we think about how ancient Egyptians were interacting with wild animals.

&ldquoHow they might have been breeding them or keeping them tame, how they might have used to worship, but also they were breeding them and giving them as offerings.&rdquo

The new documentary, which was released globally yesterday follows the journey of workers as they uncovered over 3,000 artefacts, helping to piece together the secrets of what has been called &ldquoEgypt&rsquos most significant find in almost 50 years&rdquo.

The team decoded the burial of the most decorated tomb ever found in Saqqara, dedicated to the Old Kingdom priest Wahtye.

Transporting the audience back through the millennia, the film provides a unique and unprecedented window into the lives &ndash and deaths &ndash of one man and his family.


Why the Egyptians mummified animals

Ancient Egyptians mummified and buried millions of animals, often treating creatures like hawks, cats, and crocs with the same reverence that they would a human corpse.

That's because the Egyptians believed animals were reincarnations of gods. By mummifying them and worshipping these animals in sacred temples, the Egyptians honored their deities.

Mummified animals could also serve as offerings to those same gods.

"People would make devotional offerings in the form of animals as mummies," Salima Ikram, an Egyptologist and mummy expert at the American University of Cairo, told The Guardian. "This would have more potency as a blood sacrifice, compared to stone or wooden images."

The lion, in particular, was a potent animal figure in ancient Egypt and viewed as a symbol of both danger and protection. According to National Geographic, pharaohs took part in lion hunts to demonstrate their own power and supremacy. Amenhotep III claimed to have killed 102 lions in the first decade of his reign.

Archaeologists still aren't sure as to why more mummified lions haven't been uncovered in the archaeological record, despite the fact that the predator features so prominently in Egyptian artwork and architecture.

"There are really no practical reasons for the lack of lion mummies," Conni Lord, an Egyptologist with the Animal Mummy Research Project at the Nicholson Museum of Sydney University, told National Geographic.

"The ancient Egyptians were perfectly able to mummify a creature of this size," she added.


Watch the video: ΛΙΟΝΤΑΡΙ ΗΧΟΣ - LION SOUND (June 2022).


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