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Archaeologists found dozens of cat-related items inside a 4,500-year-old tomb at the site of a necropolis in Saqqara, which is on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities announced Saturday.
Among the items found in the tomb were dozens of mummified cats, 100 gilded wooden cat statues and a bronze statue representing the goddess of cats, Bastet, according to NPR.
The outlet reports that Saqqara is from the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom and was once the site of a necropolis used by the ancient city of Memphis.
Antoniette Catanzariti, curator of the Smithsonian Sackler Gallery exhibit “Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt,” tells NPR that the Egyptians didn’t exactly worship cats, but, “What they did is observe their behavior and create gods and goddess in their image—much as they did with other animals, including dogs, crocodiles, snakes and bulls.”
Catanzariti also notes that cat mummies were pretty common in ancient Egypt, where they were bred intentionally for mummification. She explains that in the 1890s, the British used to collect mummified cats to bring back to the United Kingdom to the point where they lost most of their appeal. She says that is probably why the antiquities ministry seems more excited about the discovery of the mummified scarab beetles also found in the tomb.
The ministry posted pictures of the findings on Twitter with the goal of attracting visitors to their historical sites. According to NPR, Egypt is experiencing a drop in tourism since the mass protests in 2011.
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