Egypt announced Saturday the discovery of an ancient treasure trove of more than a 100 intact sarcophagi, the largest such find this year.
The sealed wooden coffins, unveiled on site amid fanfare, belonged to top officials of the Late Period and the Ptolemaic period of ancient Egypt.
They were found in three burial shafts at depths of 12 metres (40 feet) in the sweeping Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo.
Archaeologists opened one coffin to reveal a mummy wrapped in a burial shroud adorned with brightly coloured hieroglyphic pictorials.
Saqqara is the burial site of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The huge find came just over a month after archaeologists in the area found 59 other well-preserved and sealed wooden coffins dating back more than 2,500 years ago.
“Saqqara has yet to reveal all of its contents. It is a treasure,” Antiquities and Tourism Minister Khaled al-Anany said at the unveiling ceremony.
“Excavations are still underway. Whenever we empty a burial shaft of sarcophagi, we find an entrance to another.”
More than 40 statues of ancient deities and funerary masks were also discovered, he said.
They will be distributed among several museums in Egypt including the yet-to-opened Grand Egyptian Museum at the Giza plateau.
The minister attributed the flurry of discoveries in Saqqara to extensive excavation works in recent years.
Another discovery in the vast necropolis is expected to be announced in the coming weeks, he added.
Archaeologists also hope to find an ancient workshop for manufacturing wooden coffins for mummies soon, according to Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Egypt hopes archaeological discoveries will spur tourism, a sector which has suffered multiple shocks ever since a 2011 uprising up until today’s coronavirus pandemic.