A lion mummy may have been discovered at famed pyramid site

Archaeologists in Egypt have found a large animal mummy that may contain the remains of a lion or lioness.

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities said on Monday the mummy was excavated in Saqqara, a town south of Cairo that was a vast necropolis in antiquity and is home to the famed Step Pyramid.

Archeologists frequently find mummified cats, but the recovery of a lion is rare. In 2004, the first lion skeleton was found, revealing the sacred status of the animal during ancient times.

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Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Khaled Al-Anani visited the site on Thursday, according to a Facebook post by the country’s Ministry of Antiquities. The remains of a number of cats were found at the site, some of which were large, officials said.

Step Pyramid of Djoser (Zoser) and Userkaf pyramid, Saqqara - file photo.

Step Pyramid of Djoser (Zoser) and Userkaf pyramid, Saqqara - file photo. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

More details of the discovery will be announced on Nov. 23, the Ministry of Antiquities added.

The pyramid complex of Saqqara is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The complex is a "masterpiece of architectural design," according to UNESCO, which notes that the Step Pyramid, or Pyramid of Djoser, is the first pyramid ever built.

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In another project, archaeologists recently uncovered 30 wooden coffins in an ancient necropolis in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor.

Egypt's Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany examines a coffin in the Saqqara necropolis.

Egypt's Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany examines a coffin in the Saqqara necropolis. (Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities)

Officials said that the “cache” of coffins was found on two levels of the Asasif Necropolis, a cemetery in the ancient town of West Thebes. The necropolis includes tombs dating back to the Middle, New Kingdom and the Late Periods (1994-332 B.C.).

Photos from the Ministry of Antiquities show colored human-shaped coffins with inscriptions and paintings.

Egypt's Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany with officials during his visit to the excavation site in Saqqara.

Egypt's Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany with officials during his visit to the excavation site in Saqqara. (Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities)

Earlier this year, archaeologists also uncovered an ancient cemetery near the famous Giza pyramids just outside Cairo.

Last year, Egypt's Antiquities Ministry announced the discovery of an ancient necropolis near the Nile Valley city of Minya, south of Cairo. The large cemetery is located north of Tuna al-Gabal area, a vast archaeological site on the edge of the western desert. It includes several burial shafts and hosts more than 1,000 statues and some 40 sarcophagi as well as other artifacts.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers