This lion cub was about eight months old when it was mummified. Until today's announcement, only one mummified lion was known from ancient Egypt.
Very rare lion mummies discovered in Egypt
Until today, only one lion mummy had been found by Egyptologists. Were mummified lions rare by nature, or have we simply just not found them yet?
It’s difficult to imagine prides of lions roaming Egypt today, but as late as 1000 B.C. the big cats idled on the banks of the Nile—and some even lounged in palaces as domesticated pets for the royals. The lion (Panthera leo) was associated with the sun and the pharaoh, the most powerful elements of life and death in ancient Egypt. And even after Egypt’s climate became drier and the prides migrated south, the lion continued to feature prominently in Egyptian culture.
“The lion played a tremendous role in the iconography of ancient Egypt,” says Conni Lord, an Egyptologist with the Animal Mummy Research Project at the Nicholson Museum of Sydney University. “The lion was a symbol of royal authority [but]