17 mummies discovered in central Egypt: ministry

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Burial shafts were found in the area and excavation work "revealed that these shafts led to a number of corridors inside a cachette of mummies", the ministry said.

El-Kholi said the mummies were found in burial shafts along with a collection of eight limestone sarcophagi, two of which were carved in clay.

The mummies have been elaborately preserved and are thought to have been officials and priests.

The minister of antiquities, Khaled al-Enany, announced the discovery on the site in the city of Minya, around 250 kilometres south of Cairo. The area dates back to the Greco-Roman period between the third century BC and third century AD.

Animal and bird coffins were also found according to the ministry, but as of yet the mummies have not been dated.

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The non-royal mummies, including some completely intact, were found inside a catacomb by a Cairo University expedition in the village of Tuna al-Gabal.

The discovery of the mummies is considered unprecedented because it is the first of its kind in that area. The lack of tourists devastated the Egyptian government, and they are hoping that this archaeological discovery, and the many that they hope will follow, will help usher the tourists back into Egypt.

Egypt's Antiquities Minister Khaled Al-Anani said the year had been a historic one for archaeological discoveries in the country.

It was the second discovery of mummies announced with much fanfare by the government in less than a month. However, in 2011, there was an uprising that caused the country to fall into years of unrest, and the tourists stopped coming out of fear for their own safety.

The 18th dynasty tomb, discovered in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis near the famed Valley of the Kings, belonged to a nobleman named Userhat who worked as the city judge. "News of antiquities are the things that attract the world to Egypt".