Valley of Kings Gives Up 50 Mummies, Including Egyptian Royalty

Wednesday, 30 Apr 2014 10:37 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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A vast archeological trove of 50 mummies, including princes, princesses, babies and adults, has been found in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, not far from the tomb of King Tut.

According to Agence France-Presse, the country's antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim said on Monday that the necropolis likely dates as far back as 1550 B.C. "The immense necropolis contains the remains of mummies that could have been members of the royal family, in particular the sons of the kings Tutmoses III and Tutmoses IV of the 18th dynasty," which ruled for hundreds of years until about 1292 BC.

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The tomb does not appear to be completely untouched since the ancient era, and shows some signs of having been raided. The state news agency MENA did not make clear how recently or not recently it was likely raided. However, in the three years since the Arab Spring, many ancient sites vital to the tourist trade have gone unsecured, leaving museums, mosques, stores and ancient ruins open to looters.

Reuters reported that Swiss researchers from the University of Basel made the discovery while working in conjunction with the Egyptian government.

Among the royals, archeologists also uncovered wooden coffins, sarcophagi, death masks, and even canopic jars that are used to store the mummies' organs after they are removed during the embalming process. Because canopic jars are often the most well preserved, researchers were luckily able to identify more than 30 of the ancient figures by name. That included the names of many previously unknown princesses.

All of the tomb's contents likely date back to what is known as the New Kingdom, which is defined by the 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties between about 1567 and 1085 BC.

The site of the necropolis is not far from other ruins available to touring visitors, lying just outside the temple city of Luxor. It is in the northwest section of the Valley of the Kings, famous for the tomb of King Tutankhaman, also known as King Tut.

The discovery comes just two months after a 3,600-year-old mummy was unearthed in nearby Luxor by Spanish archeologists. That mummy appears to be a high official.

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