A rare cache of mummified animals including cats and lion cubs – as well as seventy-five bronze and wooden statues, depicting felines, crocodiles, snakes and birds - is now being displayed in a new exhibit at the Saqqara necropolis located near the Giza pyramids in Southern Cairo.The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry announced the find on Saturday at the Bastet Temple, named after the lion-headed goddess. The temple was a place dedicated mainly to the worship of cats by the ancient populous.In addition, statues of a mongoose, a falcon similar to the Egyptian god Ra, the Egyptian deity Anubis and an Apis bull were revealed at the exhibit's opening - many featuring hieroglyphic writings.Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany, who portrayed the discovery as an "[entire] museum by itself," added that the aggregation is believed to belong to the 26th Dynasty, dating back to the 7th century BCE.While the minister noted that cats being found in mummified form during an archaeological dig is no surprise to the ministry, discovering the remains of a lion cub in the same state and location is quite unusual. In 2004, the first mummified lion was found in Saqqara, revealing their sacred status.Cats are well known to be deemed as sacred animal to ancient Egyptians, and have been represented in social and religious practices for nearly 30 centuries. Even Egyptian deities were portrayed as having cat-like features, including the goddesses Mafdet, Bastet, Sekhment and the Egyptian god Anubis.They were revered for killing venomous snakes and for protecting Egyptian pharaohs, dating as far back as the First Dynasty - which is believed to have been founded between the 34th and the 30th centuries BCE. The deity Mafdet was regarded mainly as the protector of the Pharoah's chambers against snakes, scorpions and evil. Skeletal remains of felines were found among funeral remains as early as the 12th Dynasty.Cat cemeteries have been unearthed in many archaeological digs around the Speos Artemidos, Bubastis and Saqqara necropolises – the latter being the location of the most recent feline findings.Saqqara is a large ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis. The necropolis is accentuated by numerous pyramids and tombs belonging to ancient Egyptian officials, including the world-famous Step pyramid of Djoser, occupying a 10.5 k.sq. area south of Cairo.