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Egypt archaeologists uncover mummification workshop near Great Pyramids

A sarcophagus inside a burial chamber, uncovered south of Cairo [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 July, 2018

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An Egyptian-German mission also discovered an extremely rare gilded silver mask, the second only such discovery ever made.
A mummification workshop and an ancient burial shaft have been discovered 30 metres underground at Egypt's Great Pyramids, south of Cairo.

Egyptian archaeologists revealed on Saturday the details of the find near the Saqqara necropolis, hoping the workshop will provide new knowledge into the chemical make-up of the oils used by ancient Egyptians to mummify corpses.

The burial shaft, which is more than 2,000 years old, is believed to date back to the Saite-Persian period, approximately 664-404 BC, Reuters reported. The shaft was originally discovered in April of this year containing 35 mummies in addition to stone sarcophagi.

"What this discovery will add are two very important things; the first is the type of oils used (in mummification), and their chemical make-up. So we will be able to identify the exact types of oils used," said Ramadan Badry Hussein, head of the Egyptian-German mission that uncovered the site.

Hundreds of small stone statues, jars, and vessels used in the mummification process were all found inside the burial chambers and excavated.

But the most significant artefact was a rare gilded silver mask, the second only such discovery ever made, Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anany said.

Archaeologists have so far this year excavated a number of relics that include a 4,400-year-old tomb at the Giza plateau and an ancient necropolis in Minya, south of Cairo.

Authorities in Egypt hope that new archaeological finds will help revive the country's struggling tourism industry, which has suffered due to the turmoil that followed the toppling of former dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

According to official data, Egypt received 8.3 million visitors in 2017, a figure dwarfed by the 2010 pre-revolution figure of 14.7 million.

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