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Archive for Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dozens of mummies discovered in tomb

February 10, 2009

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— A storeroom housing about two dozen ancient Egyptian mummies has been unearthed inside a 2,600-year-old tomb during the latest round of excavations at the vast necropolis of Saqqara south of Cairo, archaeologists said Monday.

The tomb was at the bottom of a 36-foot deep shaft, said Egypt’s top archaeologist, Zahi Hawass. Twenty-two mummies were found in niches along the tomb’s walls, he said.

Eight sarcophagi were also found in the tomb. Archaeologists so far have opened only one of the sarcophagi — and found a mummy inside of it, said Hawass’ assistant Abdel Hakim Karar. Mummies are believed to be inside the other seven, he said.

The “storeroom for mummies” dates back to 640 B.C. during the 26th Dynasty, which was Egypt’s last independent kingdom before it was overthrown by a succession of foreign conquerors beginning with the Persians, Hawass said. But the tomb was discovered at an even older site in Saqqara that dates back to the 4,300-year-old 6th Dynasty, he said.

Most of the mummies are poorly preserved, and archaeologists have yet to determine their identities or why so many were put in one room.

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