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Rare Discovery: 17 Mummies Unearthed in Ancient Burial Site in Egypt

May 15, 2017 11:29 AM EDT
Egypt's Mummies
17 mummies were discovered in an ancient burial site in Cairo. Officials say that the discovery was unprecedented.
(Photo : Patrick Landmann/Cairo Museum/Getty Images)

In another astonishing find, archaeologists unearthed 17 mummies in an ancient burial site in the Minya province in Egypt. Experts from Egypt's Antiquities Ministry call the discovery "unprecedented."

The Egyptian mummies are believed to be non-royals buried in corridors near the Touna-Gabal district. As per custom, the mummies were buried with other ornaments such as golden sheet and two papyri script in Demotic. Some sarcophagi made out of clay and limestones were also discovered.

Based on a statement released by the ministry, animal and bird coffins were also discovered. Interestingly, experts haven't dated the mummies yet. So far, the ministry believes that the mummies were from the Late Period, about 300 years up to Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt in the year 332 BC.

The Egyptian mummies were preserved and are believed to be priests and officials, according to a report. The 17 mummies were discovered during the preliminary stage of excavation, which means there could be more interesting find on the horizon.

However, due to the uncertainty of the age of the 17 newly discovered mummies, some say they could also belong to the Ptolemaic Dynasty. The discovery was considered rare because this is the first time non-royals were unearthed on the site.

Also, the ancient burial site was the first to house 17 mummies in one area. Even the director of excavations for Cairo, Mohamed Hamza called the discovery "important, unprecedented," according to AFP. The discovery of a great number of mummies in one site could lead to more important finds.

"Antiquities are the soft power that distinguishes Egypt," Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany added. "News of antiquities are the things that attract the world to Egypt."

This year looks promising when it comes to excavation in Cairo. Last month, the ministry also reported that eight mummies were dug in the southern city of Luxor in a 3,500-year-old tomb. The discoveries are also helping the tourism in Cairo. However, Islamist militant attacks get in the way. The discoveries help keep Egypt on the world map.

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