Archaeologists in Egypt have made a new discovery dating back to more than 2,500 years ago near Egypt's famed pyramids south of Cairo.
The discovery, which includes a mummification workshop and a shaft used as a communal burial place, is located at the vast Saqqara necropolis that's part of Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Memphis, the first capital of ancient Egypt, and its large necropolis are home to a wide range of temples and tombs as well as the three pyramids of Giza.
The latest find, announced at a news conference Saturday, belongs to the Saite-Persian Period, from 664-404 B.C. The site, which lies south of Unas pyramid, was last excavated more than 100 years ago, in 1900.
Among the artifacts found were a gilded silver mummy mask, fragments of mummy cartonnages, cylindrical jars and marl clay and faience cups. Many of them will be displayed in the under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum, the first phase of which is expected to be inaugurated later this year.
Down the 30-meter-deep shaft lie several mummies, wooden coffins and sarcophagi. The shaft is comprised of burial chambers carved into the bedrock lining the sides of two hallways.
Artifacts found in a mummification workshop may reveal more about the oils used in the mummification process in the 26th Dynasty.
"We are in front of a gold mine of information about the chemical composition of these oils," archaeologist Ramadan Hussein said at the press conference.
"It's only the beginning," added Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani. He told reporters that the sites will likely yield more discoveries after further excavation.