Egyptian archaeologists carrying out excavations at the site of a planned youth centre have found 14 tombs dating back to the third century BC, including one with a female mummy adorned with jewellery.
The Greco-Roman tombs, in Bahariya Oasis, 300 km (190 miles) southwest of Cairo, were discovered during probes that indicated they may be part of a much larger necropolis, Egypt’s Culture Ministry said in a statement on Monday. A 97-cm (38-inch) tall female mummy, found in the stair-lined interior of one of the rock-hewn tombs, was cast in coloured plaster inlaid with jewellery and eyes. Archaeologists, who dug at the site ahead of the planned construction of a youth centre, found the tombs contained other treasures as well. The area has now been turned over to Egypt’s antiquities authority. “Early investigations uncovered four anthropoid masks made of plaster, a gold fragment decorated with engravings of the four sons of Horus, and a collection of coins, and clay and glass vessels,” the ministry’s statement quoted Egypt’s chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass as saying. The four sons of Horus – Imsety, Duamutef, Hapi and Qebehsenuef – were ancient Egyptian gods. The engravings show the influence of Egyptian religion well into the Greco-Roman period. The gods were believed to protect the stomach, liver, intestines and lungs of mummified bodies. Bahariya Oasis is home to Egypt’s famed Valley of the Golden Mummies, where a collection of 17 tombs with about 254 mummies was discovered in 1996.