Egypt discovers 40 mummies in ancient chambers in Minya


CAIRO — Egypt says it has discovered a number of ancient burial chambers containing some 40 mummies in the desert province of Minya, south of Cairo.

Officials told reporters on Saturday at the site that the chambers, which were cut out of rock, belonged to a middle-class family who probably lived during the Ptolemaic, early Roman or Byzantine period.

The mummies are in good condition and at least 10 are of children. 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.

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.

An archaeologist looks at mummies discovered in the desert province of Minya, south of Cairo, Egypt on February 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Roger Anis)

In November, local archaeologists claimed to have discovered seven Pharaonic Age tombs near the capital Cairo containing dozens of cat mummies along with wooden statues depicting other animals and birds.

In May 2017, the country’s antiquities ministry announced that Egyptian archaeologists had discovered 17 mummies in desert catacombs in Minya province, an “unprecedented” find for the area south of Cairo.

Archaeologists found the non-royal mummies in a series of corridors after following the trail of burial shafts in the Touna-Gabal district of the central Egyptian province, the ministry said in a statement.

An archaeologist looks at a recently discovered burial chamber in the desert province of Minya, south of Cairo, on Feb. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Roger Anis)

It was the second discovery of mummies announced with much fanfare by the government in less than a month.

In April of that year, the ministry invited reporters to the southern city of Luxor to unveil eight mummies discovered in a 3,500-year-old tomb belonging to a nobleman.

For the cash-strapped Egyptian government, the discoveries are a boon from the country’s glorious past as it struggles to attract tourists scared off by a series of Islamist militant attacks.

Millions of tourists visited Egypt every year to see its Giza Pyramids — the only surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World — and its ancient pharaonic temples and relics.

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