After two years of work in Egypt, archaeologists have discovered hundreds of tombs with interconnected tunnels and mummies, in addition to a pyramid identifying a previously unknown queen.
The discoveries, made at Saqqara in Giza, the archaeological site near Cairo, Egypt, are believed to be from the New Kingdom period, dating to 1550-1070 B.C.
Among the finds, archaeologists discovered “300 beautiful coffins” containing mummies in surprisingly good condition.
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“Burials from the New Kingdom were not known to be common in the area before, so this is entirely unique to the site,” Zahi Hawass, an archaeologist and Egyptologist who formerly served as Egypt’s minister of antiquities, told Live Science. “The coffins have individual faces, each one unique, distinguishing between men and women, and are decorated with scenes from the Book of the Dead. Each coffin also has the name of the deceased.”
“This shows that mummification reached its peak in the New Kingdom,” Hawass added. “Some coffins have two lids, and the most amazing coffin so far has a mask of a woman made completely of solid gold.”
The discoveries were made on Nov. 4, the 100-year anniversary of unearthing King Tut’s tomb.
Due to the close proximity to King Tut’s tomb, researchers think the mummies may belong to those of his closest advisers and generals during his reign from 1333 B.C. until 1323 B.C.
Hawass said the burials were found in 22 newly discovered interconnected tunnels, which range from 30 to 60 feet deep.
Additionally, the archaeologists found a pyramid identifying the Egyptian queen Neith.
“It is amazing to literally rewrite what we know of history, adding a new queen to our records,” Hawass said.
The discoveries follow a trove of ancient artifacts, including the uncovering of 2,500-year-old coffins, found in May.
A selection of the discoveries will be displayed at the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, which is set to open next year.