Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient treasure trove of tombs, coffins and mummies in a vast necropolis south of Cairo in Egypt.
Zahi Hawass, the country’s former antiquities minister and archaeologist, revealed the discoveries at the Saqqara necropolis on Sunday.
One of the finds was the temple of Queen Neit, wife of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty that ruled Egypt from 2323 B.C. till 2150 B.C.
They also found burial wells, with more than 50 wooden coffins, and mummies dating back to the New Kingdom that ruled Egypt between around 1570 B.C. and 1069 B.C.
Archaeologists also found a 4-metre-long papyrus that includes texts of the Book of the Dead, which is a collection of spells aimed at directing the dead through the underworld in ancient Egypt.
Hawass, known for his Indiana Jones hat and TV specials on Egypt’s ancient sites, is Egypt’s best-known archaeologist.
He said work has been ongoing at the site close to the Pyramid of Teti for over a decade.
The discovery was the result of cooperation between the Antiquities Ministry and the Zahi Hawass Centre at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
The Saqqara site is part of the necropolis at Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis that includes the famed Giza pyramids as well as smaller pyramids at Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh.
The ruins of Memphis were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in the 1970s.
In recent years, Egypt has heavily promoted new archaeological finds to international media and diplomats in the hope of attracting more tourists to the country.