Egypt unearths mummified animals, including suspected lions, birds

A mummified feline is displayed as part of the discovery.
A mummified feline is displayed as part of the discovery.PHOTO: AFP

CAIRO (DPA) - Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed a cache of mummified animals, including sacred birds and five big cats which preliminary studies suggest are lion cubs.

The discovery was made at the Sacred Animal Necropolis in Saqqara, near Cairo, Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani told a press conference on Saturday (Nov 23), according to an official statement.

The minister said the discovery includes a large collection of 75 wooden and bronze cat statues of different shapes and sizes.

It also include mummified cats found inside wooden boxes, and wooden statues of various animals, including the mongoose and small crocodiles, with mummified crocodile remains.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said at the conference that five mummies of large cats were found.

He added that the results of preliminary studies conducted on two of the cat mummies proved that they are of lion cubs aged 8 months.

If confirmed, "it would mark the first ever time that intact lion cub mummies have been discovered," he said.

Only skeletons of lions have ever been found, he pointed out.

Egypt has in recent months announced a series of ancient discoveries which may help to revive its battered tourism industry, a main source of national income.

The industry has been hard hit by widespread unrest since the 2011 uprising against Egypt's long-time dictator Hosny Mubarak.