Egyptian archaeologists uncovered a Pharaonic tomb containing 50 mummies dating back to the Ptolemaic era (305-30 BC), in Minya, south of Cairo, the ministry of antiquities said on Saturday.
The mummies, 12 of which were of children, were discovered inside four, nine-meter deep burial chambers in the Tuna El-Gebel archaeological site.
The identities of the mummies were still unknown, said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
“We have not found names written in hieroglyphics,” he said, adding it was obvious from the mummification method that the individuals whose remains were found had to some extent held important or prestigious positions.
Egypt’s Antiquities Minister said on February 2 that a joint mission from the ministry and Minya University’s Archaeological Studies Research Center found upon a collection of Ptolemaic burial chambers engraved in rock and filled with a large number of mummies of different sizes and genders. The minister added that the newly discovered tombs may be a familial grave for a family from the elite middle class.
Visitors, including ambassadors from several countries, gathered at the discovery site where 40 of the mummies were exhibited during the announcement ceremony.
Some of the mummies were found wrapped in linen while others were placed in stone coffins or wooden sarcophagi.
The mummies are in good condition and some were decorated with “demotic handwriting” — a form of ancient Egyptian script used by ordinary people. Pottery, papyri and colorful mummy cases were also unearthed.
The archaeological finding was the first of 2019 and was unearthed through a joint mission with the Research Center for Archaeological Studies of Minya University.
Egypt has made a series of archaeological finds recently, and it has been heavily promoting them to revive its tourism industry, a staple of its economy that was decimated by the chaos that followed its 2011 uprising.