Mon, May 15, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Ancient chamber with mummies found in Egypt

NY Times News Service and AFP

Two mummies lie inside a burial site in Minya, Egypt, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

Archeological workers in Egypt unearthed an ancient burial site with at least 17 intact mummies near the Nile Valley city of Minya, news agency reports said.

The mummies, discovered at a depth of about 7.6m, are believed to be the bodies of priests and officials, The Associated Press reported.

The site included sarcophagi made of limestone and clay, animal and bird coffins, and papyrus with Demotic script — not the hieroglyphs found in earlier Egyptian tombs.

It was discovered near the village of Tuna al-Gabal, where a necropolis for thousands of mummified animals was previously excavated.

It was found last year by some Cairo University students using radar, Reuters reported.

The mummies are believed to date to Egypt’s Greco-Roman period, a 600-year epoch that began in 332 BC after the region was conquered by Alexander the Great, said Mohamed Hamza, the dean of archeology at Cairo University, who helped lead the excavations.

The burial site might hold as many as 32 mummies.

It is “the first human necropolis found in central Egypt with so many mummies,” Egyptologist Salah al-Kholi said, according to the Telegraph.

Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani called this a “historic year” for discoveries.

“It’s as if it’s a message from our ancestors who are lending us a hand to help bring tourists back,” he said at a news conference on Saturday.

It was the second discovery of mummies announced with much fanfare by the government in less than a month.

Last month, the ministry invited reporters to the southern city of Luxor to unveil eight mummies discovered in a 3,500-year-old tomb belonging to a nobleman.

For the cash-strapped Egyptian government, the discoveries are a boon from the nation’s glorious past as it struggles to attract tourists scared off by a series of Islamist militant attacks.

Egypt’s tourism industry has struggled in recent years. About 5.4 million people visited last year, down from 14.7 million in 2010.

“Antiquities are the soft power that distinguishes Egypt,” Anani said. “News of antiquities are the things that attract the world to Egypt.”

Millions of tourists visited Egypt every year to see its Giza Pyramids — the only surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World — and its ancient pharaonic temples and relics.

However, a popular uprising in 2011 that overthrew former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak ushered in years of unrest that battered the economy and drove away tourists.

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