17 mummies discovered in Egypt catacombs

17 mummies discovered in Egypt catacombs

At least 17 mummies were discovered during excavation work in the Upper Egyptian city of El-Minya, announced Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities.

Stone and clay sarcophagi, inscriptions and animal coffins as well as papyrus pieces written in the ancient Demotic language were also discovered in the 3-kilometre-long site.

The discovery was made in the village of Tuna el-Gabal, a vast archaeological site on the edge of the western desert.

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The burial chamber was first detected previous year by a team of Cairo University students using radar. Archaeologists can already see the legs and feet of other mummies sticking out from the edges of the dig site.

The mummies have not yet been dated but are believed from Egypt's Greco-Roman period, a roughly 600-year span that followed the country's conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 BC, according to Mohamed Hamza, a Cairo University archaeology dean in charge of the excavations.

"We found catacombs containing a number of mummies", said Salah al-Kholi, a Cairo University professor of Egyptology who headed the mission that made the discovery in the Touna el-Gabal district of the province in central Egypt, AFP reported.

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"2017 - historic in terms of archaeological discoveries".

The discovery adds to a spate of recent finds at sites across Egypt.

The find is the latest in a number of discoveries that officials hope will help revive the struggling tourism industry. "It is as if our ancestors are sending a message for tourism to come back strongly".

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In April, 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. Figures from 2016 are not yet available.

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