An ancient Egyptian catacomb has been examined, housing the mummified remains of eight million dogs. This bizarre animal tomb is located beneath the same grounds which holds the oldest pyramid in Egypt.
The Catacombs of the canine god Anubis date from a time which covers two distinct points in the history of Egypt, from the end of independent governorship, to the Ptolemaic Period (B.C.E. 332 – 30), when Greece ruled Egypt. They are located northeast of the step pyramid in Saqqara.
People were mummified in an effort to preserve their bodies for the afterlife, and humans were often buried along with the preserved remains of animals and worldly goods. Catacombs served as a center for visitors coming to pay respects to the departed. These crowds would purchase large numbers of vases and statues to leave at the catacomb as an offering. These sales could be vital to the local economy in a given area.
The area was known by locals, but had been largely unexplored by archaeologists due to the poor condition of must of the artifacts known to lie within the structure. A map created in 1897 shows the canine-centered catacomb, but not in detail, due to the scale of the drawing.