Archaeologists discovered a treasure trove of ancient artifacts during the excavation of a 3,500-year-old Egyptian tomb. The Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis near the city of Luxor yielded eight mummies, 10 colorful sarcophagi, more than 1,000 funerary statues and an array of patterned and colored pots.
“It was a surprise how much was being displayed inside,” Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany told reporters Tuesday. “This is an important discovery.”
The 18th Dynasty tomb belonged to a nobleman named Userhat who worked as a judge, Egyptian officials said in a statement Tuesday. More mummies were added during the 21st Dynasty, around 3,000 years ago, Mostafa Waziri, head of the archaeological mission, told Agence France-Presse.
Among the findings were detailed sarcophagi, or coffins, colored red, blue, black, green and yellow and featuring the carved faces of those inside. Some showed signs of deterioration and breakage, but most remained well preserved, officials said.
The statues inside the tomb were a specific type known as Ushtabi, small carved figures that often accompanied the deceased into the afterlife to help them.
“It is a T-shaped tomb [which] consists of an open court leading into a rectangular hall, a corridor and an inner chamber,” officials said in a statement.
It's possible additional discoveries could be made, as the head of the archeological mission said the excavation was ongoing.
“There is evidence and traces that new mummies could be discovered in the future,” Nevine el-Aref, spokeswoman for the antiquities ministry, told reporters Tuesday.
Archeologists made another groundbreaking discovery nearby in 2014 when they uncovered the remains of at least 50 people in another 18th Dynasty tomb known as tomb KV40.
“We discovered a remarkable number of carefully mummified newborns and infants that would have normally been buried much simpler,” Susanne Bickel, an Egyptologist involved in the excavation, said in a statement. “We believe that the family members of the royal court were buried in this tomb for a period of several decades.”