Mummy "prison" found in Egypt's Saqqara

Record 30 mummies found at necropolis outside Cairo

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Archeologists unearthed Monday a storehouse containing 30 Egyptian mummies inside a 2,600-year-old-tomb at the necropolis in Saqqara, just outside of Cairo.

"It is certainly rare to find such a large number of mummies in one spot," Egypt's top archeologist and Minister of Tourism Dr. Zahi Hawass told AlArabiya.net.

He described the site as a "prison of mummies" dating back to 640 B.C. during the 26th Dynasty, Egypt's last independent kingdom, which was toppled by a succession of foreign conquerors beginning with the Persians.

The tomb was located at the bottom of a 36-foot deep shaft near the step pyramid, said Hawarass, who has noted that only about 30 percent of Egypt's monuments have been uncovered.

"These frequent discoveries prove that Saqqara is a virgin site of archeological history. We have merely excavated 30 percent of what is beneath the ground," Hawass said. "The remaining 70 percent promise to yield more exciting findings."

150 years of excavations in Saqqara have yielded a plethora of pyramids and tombs from the Old Kingdom and monuments from as recently as the Roman era.

In December 2008, two tombs were unearthed near the current discovery. All three tombs were built for high officials, one in charge of the quarries used to build nearby pyramids and the other for a woman in charge of picking entertainers for the pharaohs.

These frequent discoveries prove that Saqqara is a virgin site of archeological history

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Minister of Tourism