The recent discovery of mummified cats in a well-preserved tomb probably shouldn't be surprising. It's a long-established fact that ancient Egyptians loved cats.
What's perhaps more remarkable, however, is the fact that a tomb unveiled on Friday contained a sort of mummified menagerie of 50 animals — and there were mummified mice and falcons in addition to the cats.
The tomb is colorfully painted and well-preserved — and Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, called it "one of the most exciting discoveries ever in the area."
Waziri told Reuters the tomb contains a lobby and a burial room with two stone coffins. It is said to have been built for a man named Tutu and his wife. The area outside the burial chamber also contained mummies of a woman and a boy between 12 and 14 years old.
This animal-filled tomb is part of a series of recent archaeological discoveries in Egypt. According to Reuters, the tomb was one of seven burial sites found near the Egyptian town of Sohag last October. Smugglers had been illegally digging for artifacts in the area.
Another tomb was unveiled in Saqqara, outside of Cairo, in December. Dozens of cat mummies and 100 cat statues were also found in Saqqara in November. February 2018 saw the unveiling of another 4,400-year-old tomb.
As NPR's Laurel Wamsley reported, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities sees the announcement of new discoveries as a way to attract tourists.
Tourism in Egypt slowed for years after the 2011 revolution. In December, The Associated Press reported that the industry has yet to recover, even though visits are gradually increasing. A new Grand Egyptian Museum, a project costing more than $1 billion and financed largely by Japan, is set to open in 2020.