Egypt announced the discovery of a large collection of intact and well-preserved coffins at a major necropolis near Cairo that date back 2,600 years.
Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said Egyptian archaeologists found three shafts containing 59 sealed sarcophagi at the Saqqara necropolis near the famed pyramid of King Djoser.
“I have witnessed the opening of one of the coffins … the mummy seems as if it was mummified yesterday,” al-Anani said on Saturday.
He added that there were other layers of coffins at the necropolis that would be unearthed.
The discovered coffins are in very good condition and retain their original colours, the minister stated.
He said that they belonged to a group of priests and top officials from ancient Egypt’s Late Period.
Scores of statuettes, including a bronze one for god Nefertum, and amulets were also dug up at the site.
According to the minister, the collection will be put on display at the Grand Egyptian Museum, being built next to the Giza Pyramids, together with three other 3,500-year-old wooden coffins unearthed from al-Asasif necropolis in the southern city of Luxor.
Egypt has in recent years stepped up the search for ancient artefacts in an attempt to revive its battered tourism industry, which is a main source of national income.
Tourism has been hard hit since the 2011 uprising against long-time dictator Hosny Mubarak.