Moscow, November 29: Archaeologists have found well-preserved mummies in Egypt dating back to the country's Ptolemaic era. The history of Ptolemaic Egypt starts chronologically with the conquest by king Alexander III of Macedon (Alexander the Great) in 125 BC and ends with the death of the queen Cleopatra of Egypt and the Roman conquest in 30 BC.
The discoveries of the mummies belonging to this particular era were made in the Egyptian oasis of Al-Fayum, where several mummies, combining traits of Hellenic and Egyptian traditions, have previously been found.
The finding was a result of excavations currently being carried out in Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt, in Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast, and near Luxor in the country's south, by teams of Russian archaeologists.
"Burials from the Greco-Roman period are laid at the depth of two meters or lower," said Galina Belova, head of the Russian Academy of Science's Egyptology department, adding that as a rule, coffins of the period are not decorated.
However, the Russian team found a 2,000-year-old family tomb containing three well-preserved mummies from the Ptolemaic era. The wooden coffins were ornamented with colored paintings and carved with hieroglyphs, recounting the family's story.
A man, probably the head of the family, was buried with a gold-plated mask. The remains will be x-rayed to establish the man's true age and to reconstruct his appearance.
The tomb also contained 1.4-meter coffin made of compressed papyrus. Judging by the illustrations adorning the coffin, it contains a mummy of a child, probably a girl, but researchers have decided not to open it 'in the field'.
A mummy of an old woman with well-preserved hair has also aroused interest, as well as a tomb of a baby, buried with mummified dogs, cats, monkeys and ibises (long-legged wading birds).