A recent discovery at a site on the edge of the pyramid complex in Saqqara, south of Cairo, has yielded "dozens" of cat mummies and several rare, preserved scarab beetles.
As Antiquities minister, Khaled el-Enany, noted the discovery was made by an Egyptian archaeological mission during excavation work started in April.
The tomb dates from the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom and is unusual because the facade and door are intact, meaning its contents may still be untouched, said Mohamed Youssef, director of the Saqqara area. He also added that experts plan to explore it in the coming weeks. Out of the sarcophagi, three of them were used for cats, while one of the other four remains unopened.
Dr. Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the mission had also unearthed the first mummies of scarabs to be found in the area. Two such mummies were found inside a rectangular limestone sarcophagus with a vaulted lid decorated with three scarabs painted in black, he said. Another collection of scarab mummies was found inside a smaller sarcophagus.
As Guardian reports, among the "dozens" of cat mummies unearthed were 100 wooden, gilded statues of cats and one in bronze dedicated to the goddess Bastet. A collection of wooden, gilded statues of a lion, a cow and a falcon was also unearthed at the Saqqara site.
Along with the discovery of the cat mummies, the antiquities department also found painted wooden cobra and crocodile sarcophagi, a collection of gilded statues depicting animal features, as well as objects including amulets, canopic jars, writing tools and papyri baskets.