Sacred Animal Necropolis
Apart from the Apis bull, buried in the Serapeum, several other kinds of sacred animals were buried at Saqqara. Their religious importance increased dramatically from the mid-7th century onwards, and long galleries were hewn into the desert plateau of northern Saqqara to receive thousands of mummified falcons, ibises and baboons. In addition, the mothers of the Apis bulls were buried in the same area. Large temple precincts were dedicated to the cults of these animals, accompanied by settlements for their priests and other dependents mainly from the 30th Dynasty and the Ptolemaic period. The remains of these structures are usually designated collectively as the Sacred Animal Necropolis of North Saqqara. The area has been excavated since 1956 by British archaeologists W.B. Emery, G.T. Martin and H.S. Smith. Further south on the edge of the desert plateau several other temples from the Ptolemaic period were located, dedicated to the cults of other animals. The dogs of Anubis and the cats of Bastet were buried here in large numbers, partly using the ancient rock-cut tombs from the New Kingdom.