April 12, 2010 / 2:17 PM / 9 years ago

Greco-Roman mummy, tombs uncovered in Egypt oasis

A handout photo released by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities shows a sheet of gold depicting the four sons of Horus, the ancient Egyptian sky god, in Bahariya Oasis, 300 km (190 miles) southwest of Cairo April 12, 2010. REUTERS/Egyptian Supreme Council/Handout

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian archaeologists carrying out excavations at the site of a planned youth center have found 14 tombs dating back to the third century BC, including one with a female mummy adorned with jewelry.

The Greco-Roman tombs, in Bahariya Oasis, 300 km (190 miles) southwest of Cairo, were discovered during probes that indicated they may be part of a much larger necropolis, Egypt’s Culture Ministry said in a statement Monday.

A 97-cm (38-inch) tall female mummy, found in the stair-lined interior of one of the rock-hewn tombs, was cast in colored plaster inlaid with jewelry and eyes.

Archaeologists, who dug at the site ahead of the planned construction of a youth center, found the tombs contained other treasures as well. The area has now been turned over to Egypt’s antiquities authority.

“Early investigations uncovered four anthropoid masks made of plaster, a gold fragment decorated with engravings of the four sons of Horus, and a collection of coins, and clay and glass vessels,” the ministry’s statement quoted Egypt’s chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass as saying.

The four sons of Horus — Imsety, Duamutef, Hapi and Qebehsenuef — were ancient Egyptian gods. The engravings show the influence of Egyptian religion well into the Greco-Roman period.

The gods were believed to protect the stomach, liver, intestines and lungs of mummified bodies.

Bahariya Oasis is home to Egypt’s famed Valley of the Golden Mummies, where a collection of 17 tombs with about 254 mummies was discovered in 1996.

Writing and reporting by Dina Zayed, Editing by Jeffrey Heller

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