Mummies elaborately saved and therefore likely belong to officials and priests

An Egyptian archaeological mission has observed a necropolis comprising at least 17 mummies near the Nile Valley city of Minya, in the first such find in the area, the antiquities ministry said on Saturday.

The discovery was induced in the village of Tuna al-Gabal, a vast archaeological site on the edge of the western desert. The region hosts a large necropolis for thousands of mummified ibis and baboon fowls as well as other animals. It also includes mausoleums and a funerary building.

Its the first human necropolis to be found here in Tuna al-Gabal, antiquities pastor Khaled al-Anani told reporters at the site, 220 kilometres( 135 miles) south of Cairo. The mummies were elaborately saved, therefore likely belong to public officials and clergymen, he said.

The new discovery also includes six sarcophagi, two clay coffins, two papyri writes to demotic script as well as a number of crafts, he said.

The necropolis, which is eight metres below ground level, dates back to the late period of ancient Egypt and the Greco-Roman period, the council of ministers noted.

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