Two lion cubs were among a collection of mummified animals discovered in a vast necropolis in Saqqara, Egypt.
The rare finds, which included several crocodiles, birds, cats, cobras, and mongooses, were unveiled by the Ministry of Antiquities on Saturday.
Wooden and tin-glazed statuettes of the war goddess Sekhmet, represented as a woman with the head of a lioness, were also displayed along with cat statues representing the ancient goddess Bastet.
A rare large stone scarab was described by Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, as “the largest all over the world”.
Markings on the artefacts, exhibited at the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, showed that they dated back to the Late Period (664-332 BC).
“We are finding here hundreds of objects,” said antiquities minister Khaled el-Anany. “All of them are very interesting from the Egyptological point of view to know better this area.”
Two mummies of ichneumon, or the Egyptian mongoose, were also unveiled, wrapped in linen bandages.
There were also strips of papyrus with depictions of the goddess Taweret depicted as a hippopotamus with the tail of a crocodile.
The two lion cubs were found close to the site of the discovery of an adult lion skeleton in Saqqara in 2004.
Radar scans are being carried out to determine whether three other mummified animals are also lions.
The Saqqara area hosts at least 11 pyramids along with hundreds of tombs of ancient officials ranging from the 1st Dynasty (2920-2770 BC) to the Coptic period (395-642).
Egypt has sought to promote its archaeological discoveries in an attempt to boost tourism following the country’s civil war in 2011.
Last month the antiquities ministry revealed a 2,200-year-old Egyptian temple had been uncovered on the bank of the Nile, and in July King Sneferu’s 4,600-year-old “bent” pyramid was opened to the public.
Additional reporting by Associated Press
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies