In a remarkable archaeological discovery, hundreds of ancient Egyptian artifacts, including coffins, cat mummies, and gold-plated statues, have been uncovered near Cairo. These treasures provide a fascinating window into Egypt’s Late Period, dating back to approximately 2,500 years ago.
Located in the “Cemetery of Ancient Animals” in Saqqara, a temple complex associated with the ancient Egyptian goddess Bastet, this extraordinary find reveals not only the significance of feline deities but also a broader pantheon of Egyptian gods and goddesses.
The Shifting Identity of Saqqara
Saqqara, long associated with the veneration of cats and the goddess Bastet, underwent a transformation in 2019. Archaeologists unearthed numerous animal mummies and statues of Egyptian gods, prompting a reconsideration of the temple’s purpose. This recent discovery adds to the narrative, further revealing the complexity of religious practices during Egypt’s Late Period.
A Multitude of Marvels
On May 30, archaeologists uncovered a wealth of figures representing not only Egyptian cats but also various gods and goddesses. Among the finds were approximately 150 bronze statues of ancient Egyptian deities, including Anubis, Osiris, Amon-Min, Nefertem, Isis, and Hathor. These deities represent a diverse range of aspects, from death and fertility to protection and nurturing.
One particularly significant discovery was a statue of a goddess buried with a mummy. This suggests that the temple at Saqqara was dedicated to a multitude of Egyptian gods, reinforcing the site’s religious significance during its heyday.
Artifacts with a Golden Touch
The archaeological team also unearthed two painted wooden statues of the goddesses Isis and Nephthys. These figures, which served as guardians of coffins, featured faces adorned with layers of gold leaf, showcasing the craftsmanship and artistic mastery of the time.
A Papyrus Scroll from the Afterlife
In a particularly intriguing find, archaeologists discovered a papyrus scroll in the same coffin. While unrolled, the scroll could have measured up to 10 meters in length. It is believed to contain chapters from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, a ritual text that guided the deceased on their journey to the afterlife.
A First for Saqqara
This discovery marks the first time that artifacts from Egypt’s Late Period have been found in Saqqara. It opens a new chapter in the site’s history, shedding light on a period that had been relatively unexplored in this region. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, in a statement, noted the historical significance of this find.