Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany announced on Saturday at a press conference a new discovery in the Saqqara necropolis carried out by an Egyptian archaeological mission led by Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The discovery was made in the sacred animals necropolis. It is the same location where, last year, the archaeological mission unearthed dozens of mummified cats, scarab beetles, cobras and crocodiles, along with the exceptionally well-preserved tomb of the Fifth Dynasty royal priest Wahtye.
El-Enany explained that the recent discovery included a large collection of 75 wooden and bronze cat statues of different shapes and sizes, a group of mummified cats found inside 25 wooden boxes with lids decorated with hieroglyphic texts, and wooden statues of animals and birds, including the Apis bull, the mongoose, the Ibis, the falcon and the ancient Egyptian god Anubis in animal form.
The mission also found, he continued, a distinguished large scarab made of stone hidden inside a wooden box, two small scarabs made of wood and sandstone, and three statues of crocodiles inside which were found remains of mummies of small crocodiles.
A collection belonging to ancient Egyptian deities was also unearthed, said El-Enany, including 73 bronze statuettes depicting god Osiris, six wooden statues of god Ptah-Soker, 11 wooden and faience statues of the lioness god Sekhmet as well as a beautifully carved statue of goddess Neith wearing the crown of Lower Egypt.
A relief bearing the name of king Psamtik I was also discovered along with a collection of statues of cobras, amulets, faience amulets of different shapes and sizes, wooden and clay masks of mummies, and a collection of papyri decorated with drawings showing goddess Tawert.
El-Enany said the discovery is “a museum in and of itself, as hundreds of objects were unearthed here at the Bubastian necropolis in Saqqara.”
He said these artefacts belong to the 26th Dynasty of the seventh century BC -- regarded as the renaissance era.
During the conference, El-Enany said Saturday's was not the last discovery of the year, but that there will be another one next month before Christmas celebrations.
He said studies thus far have revealed that five of these mummies may belong to lion cubs.
El-Enany pointed out that French Egyptologist Alain Zivie had previously uncovered a skeleton of a lion near the necropolis.
Waziri said the most distinguished items of this discovery are the five mummies of big cats, which are probably of lion cubs. According to the CT-scan carried out on two of these mummies, there is a 95 per cent chance the mummies belong to lion cubs, based on the size and shape of the bones of the mummies.
However, more studies are yet to reveal more details.