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Amid Yemen war, Houthis announce discovery of ancient mummies

Experts warned that a Saudi-led bombing campaign had put mummies at risk of damage [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 August, 2019

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Amid the chaos of the Yemen civil war, the Houthis have announced the discovery of ancient mummies near the rebel-held capital Sanaa.

Amid the chaos of the Yemen civil war, the Houthis have announced the discovery of a number of ancient mummies near the capital Sanaa, the rebel's SABA news agency reported on Sunday.

The minister of the rebel-run culture ministry said the mummies, some which reportedly date back over 3,000 years, were found at an archaeological site in the Shamlan area.

"This important discovery has two aspects. The first is a human settlement and the second is stone tombs that include some mummies that date to the stone age, the bronze age and over 3,000 years ago," Abdallah al-Kabsi said.

"Some of stone tombs' contents have been robbed, while many preserve their structures and mummies wrapped in leather and linen."

He added that archaeologists and security forces have been sent to the site to protect the finds amid the ongoing complex and devastating civil war.

The process of mummification has traditionally been associated with Ancient Egypt, but the technique was also practised in other areas of ancient Arabia.

Yemen's mummified bodies pre-date Islam and date from a time when kingdoms - such as Saba and Awsan - ruled a region then known as South Arabia.

Last year, experts at Sanaa University warned that a Saudi-led bombing campaign had put 12 ancient mummies at risk of irreparable damage.

The mummies had begun to rot as swathes of the city have been left without electricity because of the brutal air campaign on the rebel-held capital.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to back the government against the Houthis.

Rebel-held areas have faced persistent coalition bombing which has inflicted a heavy civilian death toll and drawn criticism from the international community for triggering a dire humanitarian crisis.

The bombing has also destroyed much of Sanaa's Old City, leaving ancient homes reduced to rubble, drawing criticism from UN cultural agency UNESCO.

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