An Egyptian worker has revealed how the discovery of an ancient tomb has affected his life in a recently released Netflix documentary titled "Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb". During the excavation of Wahtye's tomb, archaeologists uncovered a shaft with mummified animals, which were reportedly a gift to Bastet, an ancient goddess in Egyptian religion depicted as a woman with the head of a cat.
Hamada Shehata Ahmed Mansour, who was the first person to enter the shaft with the mummified animals, revealed that after he took part in the excavation, his cats started behaving extremely strangely.
"Ever since I started working in this cat necropolis when cats see me around my house, they run. They are afraid of me. They don’t act like pets towards me like they used to. But when the cats run, I say to them 'you have the right'. 'I did just take your ancestors out of the ground and put them in storage'. Maybe they are scared I’ll do the same thing to them”, Hamada Shehata Ahmed Mansour revealed in the documentary.
Netflix's "Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb" talks about the archaeologists' attempts to decipher the history of their extraordinary find and follows them as they uncover numerous artefacts and unique items of great archaeological value. The discovery of the tomb belonging to the high-ranking priest Wahtye was dubbed Egypt's "most significant find in almost 50 years".
Cats were revered in Ancient Egypt as people believed they were magical creatures capable of bringing luck. Professor of Egyptology Salima Ikram revealed that the felines even reached a level of dignity equal to gods.
"During its lifetime, this creature would be treated as a God, fed, watered and prayed to. People would give offerings to this creature. They would give amulets and statues made of wood, stone, faience, and even bronze. But they would also give animal mummies because the idea was if you made a blood sacrifice to the God, that would mean more than something made out of wood or stone", Salima Ikram said.
According to the professor, Ancient Egyptians bought cats from priests, who bred the felines on farms.
"As far as we know, people did not give pet cats as offerings. The ones that they gave as offerings were actually bought from the priest. So, we think that the priests would be breeding them and they’d probably subcontract it out to villagers all around the area of Saqqara. People were farming these cats and probably having kitten farms as well. The way a sacred animal cult worked was that there was one animal in the temple that was supposed to be sort of the divine manifestation of the Goddess or the God", Professor Ikram said.