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Cats, lion cub mummies feature in huge ancient Egypt find

Egyptologists are thrilled at discovery, which includes mummified cats, cobras, crocodiles and scarabs
Statues of cats discovered by Egyptian archaeological team in Giza's Saqqara necropolis, south of Cairo, are displayed on Saturday (AFP)

Egypt on Saturday unveiled a cache of 75 wooden and bronze statues and five lion cub mummies decorated with hieroglyphics at the Saqqara necropolis near the Giza pyramids in Cairo.

Egyptologists are thrilled at the find, which includes mummified cats, cobras, crocodiles and scarabs among the well-preserved mummies and other objects, AFP said.

The Antiquities Ministry announced the find at the foot of the Bastet Temple, dedicated to the worship of cats among ancient Egyptians, in the vast necropolis.

Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany described the discovery as "a museum by itself".

Mummy of feline displayed after announcement of discovery south of Cairo on Saturday (AFP)
Mummy of feline displayed after the announcement of discovery south of Cairo on Saturday (AFP)

Of five large mummified wild cats, two have been identified as lion cubs, and the remaining three will be analysed to determine their species, according to the Guardian.

"If it's a cheetah, a leopard, a lioness, a panther - whatever, it will be one of its kind," Mostafa Waziry, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities, told the Guardian.

Other artefacts uncovered in the dig included statues of an Apis bull, a mongoose, an ibis, a falcon and the ancient Egyptian god Anubis in animal form.

The artefacts belong to the 26th Dynasty, which dates back to the seventh century BC, Enany said.

Egypt has sought to promote its unique heritage as a way of reviving its vital tourism sector, which has been badly hit by political insecurity and attacks.