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New excavation unearths tombs and sarcophagus in Egypt

Egypt has unveiled dozens of new archaeological discoveries, including two ancient tombs at a Pharaonic necropolis just outside of the capital Cairo.

The artefacts, unearthed during a year-long excavation, were found beneath an ancient stone enclosure near the Saqqara pyramids, the excavation team said on Thursday.

One of the uncovered tombs belonged to a priest from the fifth dynasty known as Khnumdjedef, while the other belonged to an official named Meri, who held the title of “the keeper of the secrets,” the team said. 

Other major findings from the excavation include statues, amulets, and a well-preserved sarcophagus.

Egypt uncovers ‘complete’ ancient Roman city in Luxor

Egypt’s most renowned archaeologist and director of the excavation, Zahi Hawass, personally unveiled the new discoveries from the stone enclosure, known as Gisr al Mudir.

‘‘I put my head inside to see what was inside the sarcophagus: A beautiful mummy of a man completely covered in layers of gold,’’ Hawass said.

The Saqqara site is part of a sprawling necropolis at Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis that includes the famed Giza Pyramids as well as smaller pyramids at Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh.

The ruins of Memphis were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in the 1970s.

READ MORE: Thousands of Egyptians seek return of Rosetta Stone from British Museum

New discoveries

Thursday’s unveiling comes amid a flurry of new discoveries announced by Egyptian authorities over the past week. 

Near the southern city of Luxor, authorities said they found dozens of burial sites from the New Kingdom era, dating from 1800 BC to 1600 BC. Discovered nearby were the ruins of an ancient Roman city, it said.

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, a group of scientists from Cairo University revealed previously unknown details about a mummified teenage boy dating to about 300 BC. 

By using CT scans, the team of scientists were able to shed new light on the boy’s high social status by affirming the intricate details of the amulets inserted within his mummified body and the type of burial he received.

Egypt often publicly touts its ancient discoveries to attract more tourists, a significant source of foreign currency for the cash-strapped North African country. 

The sector suffered a long downturn after the political turmoil and violence that followed a 2011 uprising.

Egypt’s tourist industry was also hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and is currently suffering from the fallout from the war in Ukraine. 

Both Russia and Ukraine formerly comprised a large source of tourists visiting Egypt.

READ MORE: How Western museums distorted the Muslim image after stealing its art

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