Cairo, Jan 26 : Archaeologists have unearthed ancient relics like Graeco-Roman mummies, painted wooden sarcophagi, jewellery and papyri in the Deir Al-Banat cemetery in Fayoum, Egypt.
According to a report in Al-Ahram Weekly, the cemetery comprises a series of rock-hewn tombs dating from the Graeco-Roman period through to early Christian times.
Between 1980 and 1995, the necropolis was the site of major excavations by the Egyptian Antiquities Authority, now the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).
This year, a joint Russian-American mission located and studied 154 rectangular shaped tombs with rounded corners partly dug in compact sand and partly cut in rock.
Their depth ranged from 1.5 and 1.7 m and each contained an unpainted wooden sarcophagus with an anthropoid mask on the lid and a cartonage inside covering the head, shoulders and feet of the mummy.
In one of the graves, an intact mummy of a young lady was found while four Ptolemaic graves, which appeared to have been looted, contained the lids of painted coffins along with mummies with their feet torn off.
"Despite these mummies being footless, they are very well preserved and wearing gilded masks," said Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the SCA.
The eastern side of the necropolis, the site of Graeco-Roman burials, contained three more mummies, this time wrapped with eight layers of linen and tied with ropes.
According to Galina Belova, director of the mission, the two mummies of the young ladies will be x rayed to facilitate the reconstruction of their faces.
"The coffins were cleaned of salt, sand and treated against insect damage," she said.
Jewelry, including rings, necklaces and bracelets, were found along with caps made of wool and fragments of textiles bearing a painted anchor crossed by a key.
"All finds were cleaned, conserved and placed in the Kom Aushim storage," reports Hawass.