2,000-year-old tombs found in Egypt

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry on Aug 15, 2017 shows three ancient tombs containing sarcophagi which were discovered in a cemetary dating back about 2,000 years in the al-Kamin al-Sahrawi area in Minya province, south
A handout picture released by the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry on Aug 15, 2017 shows three ancient tombs containing sarcophagi which were discovered in a cemetary dating back about 2,000 years in the al-Kamin al-Sahrawi area in Minya province, south of Cairo.PHOTO: AFP/EGYPTIAN ANTIQUITIES MINISTRY

CAIRO (AFP) - Egyptian archaeologists have discovered three ancient tombs about  2,000 years old  in a cemetery in the south of the country, the antiquities ministry said on Tuesday (Aug 15).

The tombs excavated in the Al-Kamin al-Sahrawi area, in Minya province south of Cairo, were in burial grounds constructed some time between the 27th Dynasty and the Greco-Roman period, the ministry said in a statement.

The team found "a collection of sarcophagi of different shapes and sizes, as well as clay fragments," said Mr Ayman Ashmawy, head of the ministry's Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector.

One of the tombs, which was reached through a shaft carved in rock, contained four sarcophagi each, and sculpted to depict a human face Another tomb held the remains of two sarcophagi and six burial holes, including one for "the burial of a small child".

Clay fragments found at the site "date the tombs between the 27th Dynasty (founded in 525 BC) and the Greco-Roman era (between 332 BC and the fourth century)," the statement said.

The discovery "suggests that the area was a great cemetery for a long span of time," Mr Ashmawy said.

In one of the three tombs, excavators found bones believed to be the remains of "men, women and children of different ages", said Mr Ali al-Bakry, head of the mission, according to the statement.

This shows that "these tombs were part of a large cemetery for a large city and not a military garrisons as some suggest," he added.

This work follows previous excavation at the site, which began in 2015.

"Works are underway in order to reveal more secrets," the statement said.

Egypt boasts an array of ancient sites including Pharaonic temples and the famed Giza pyramids that draw millions of tourists every year.