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An Egyptian archeological mission has unearthed at least 17 mummies and numerous artifacts in an ancient burial site near the city of Minya in central Egypt.
The burial site is about eight yards below ground and dates back to 332 BC, when the last native rulers reigned in Egypt. The period spanned almost 300 years and ended on the Alexander the Great’s conquest of Egypt.
The discovery was made in the village of Tuna el-Gabal, which is a popular archeological site on the edge of western desert. The ancient site is known to have necropolises for animals and birds. But it is the first time that a human burial site is found in the area containing so many mummies. Along with the mummies, researchers have also found limestone and clay sarcophagi, animal coffins, two papyri in Demotic –an ancient Egyptian script – and a number of vessels.
“It’s the first human necropolis to be found here in Tuna al-Gabal.”Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani told reporters at the site.
The finding of human necropolis is being heralded as “important” and “unprecedented” archeological discovery for Egypt. The country is struggling to draw tourists due to constant political uncertainty and security concerns, despite the fact that it has one of richest archeological sites and monuments. The discovery could boost Egyptian tourism industry.
“Antiquities are the soft power that distinguishes Egypt,” said Enany. “News of antiquities are the things that attract the world to Egypt.”
The excavation is still underway and officials are hoping to discover more mummies and artifacts in the site.
It was the second discovery of mummies announced by the ministry in less than a month.
Earlier, Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed several mummies, wooden sarcophagi and more than 1,000 funerary statues in a 3,500-year-old tomb near the city of Luxor. The tomb was thought to have belonged to an ancient Egyptian city judge named Userhat from Egypt’s noble class.