Saqqara Tombs Reveal More Animal Mummies

Bible and archaeology news

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities recently announced that rare mummified scarab beetles as well as dozens of mummified cats were uncovered in Saqqara, the main necropolis for the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis (just south of modern Cairo). Archaeological excavations took place in three New Kingdom tombs and four Old Kingdom tombs near Pharaoh Userkaf’s pyramid complex. One Old Kingdom tomb, in particular, dating to the Fifth or Sixth Dynasty (c. 24th–22nd centuries B.C.E.), belonged to an overseer of the royal buildings named Khufu-Imhat.

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Excavations uncovered mummified scarab beetles in the Saqqara tombs for the first time. Photo: Courtesy of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

According to Dr. Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, this is the first time scarab mummies have been found in a Memphis necropolis. In one large limestone sarcophagus, the lid of which was decorated with an image of three scarabs, archaeologists found two large scarab mummies wrapped in linen. Another collection of scarabs was discovered in a smaller limestone sarcophagus with a lid painted with one scarab.
 


 
In the free eBook Ancient Israel in Egypt and the Exodus, top scholars discuss the historical Israelites in Egypt and archaeological evidence for and against the historicity of the Exodus.
 


 
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A cat statue from the Saqqara tombs. Photo: Courtesy of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

Uncovered among the dozens of mummified cats in the Saqqara tombs were 100 gilded cat statues and a bronze statue dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Bastet. An Archaeology Odyssey article describes the significance of Bastet and her relationship to cats:

At least by the Ptolemaic period, the Egyptians viewed cats as manifestations of Bastet, goddess of joy and fertility and protector of women in childbirth. Bastet was sometimes represented as a serene she-cat; at other times, she had the graceful body of a woman and the head of a cat.

Even the famous Egyptian vizier ‘Abdiel was buried with hundreds of cat mummies in Saqqara.

“Egyptians mummified animals to create votive objects, as an offering to the gods,” explained Egyptologist Dr. Leslie Anne Warden of Roanoke College in an email to Bible History Daily. “These animals would bring prayers to the gods for all eternity.”

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Animal mummies: cats of Saqqara. Photo: Courtesy of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

Archaeologists also discovered within these Saqqara tombs cobra and crocodile mummies, 1,000 faience amulets dedicated to an assortment of deities, and fragments of a Book of the Dead (a collection of funerary texts intended to assist a person’s journey beyond this world).
 


 
In the free eBook Ancient Israel in Egypt and the Exodus, top scholars discuss the historical Israelites in Egypt and archaeological evidence for and against the historicity of the Exodus.
 


 

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Millions of Mummified Dogs Uncovered at Saqqara

Cats in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian Mummification

Posted in News, The Ancient Near Eastern World.

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