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Egyptians discover room full of mummies

A ROOM filled with 30 Egyptians mummies has been unearthed inside a 2,600-year-old tomb in the vast necropolis of Saqqara, outside Cairo, archeologists announced yesterday.

The tomb was found at the bottom of an 11-meter shaft, announced Egypt's top archaeologist, Zahi Hawass. Eight of the mummies were in sarcophagi while the rest were in niches along the wall.

Hawass described the discovery as a "storeroom for mummies," dating to 640 BC and the 26th Dynasty, Egypt's last independent kingdom before being overthrown by a succession of foreign powers starting with the Persians.

The tomb was discovered at a site dating back to the 4,300-year-old Sixth Dynasty.

Most of the mummies are poorly preserved and archeologists have yet to determine their identity or why so many are in a single room. One of the sarcophagi is made of wood and bears the name Badi N Huri.

"This one might have been an important figure but I can't tell because there was no title," said Hawass' assistant, Abdel Hakim Karar.

He said the rest of the sarcophagi - including four that are tightly sealed - have yet to be opened.

Karar added that it was quite unusual for mummies of this late period to be stored in rocky niches.

Excavations have been ongoing at Saqqara for 150 years, uncovering a vast necropolis of pyramids and tombs dating mostly from the Old Kingdom, but including sites as recent as the Roman era.

In the past, excavations have focused on just one side of the two nearby pyramids - the famous Step Pyramid of King Djoser and that of Unas, the last king of the Fifth Dynasty. The area where the current tomb was found has been largely untouched.

But new finds are constantly being made. In November Hawass announced the discovery of Saqqara's 12th pyramid, the 118th in Egypt.

Hawass estimates only 30 percent of Egypt's monuments have been uncovered, with the rest still under the sand.


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