In what is being described as “one of the most exciting discoveries ever,” archaeologists in Egypt have uncovered about 50 mummified animals, including mice and falcons, from a well-preserved and colorfully painted tomb thought to date from the early Ptolemaic period, more than 2,000 years ago.
The tomb, unveiled on Friday by the Egyptian antiquities ministry, was one of seven burial sites unearthed in the city of Akhmim in Sohag in October and is believed to have belonged to a senior official named Tutu and his wife.
Authorities actually made the discovery after they found smugglers digging illegally for artifacts, officials said on Friday.
“It’s one of the most exciting discoveries ever in the area,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. He described the burial chamber as a “beautiful, colorful tomb,” with inscriptions on the wall still vibrant even after thousands of years.
A human mummy was found inside, along with more than 50 mummified mice, cats, and falcons. The tomb’s painted walls depict images of funeral processions and the owner working in the fields, as well as his family genealogy written in hieroglyphics, according to the New York Times.
Friday’s presentation of the newly discovered tomb was intended to “draw the world’s attention to the civilization and antiquities of Egypt” and give a boost to Egypt’s tourism industry.
The discovery of the mummies and burial sites is part of a recent spate of significant discoveries in Egypt.
In November last year, archaeologists in Egypt uncovered dozens of cat mummies and a rare collection of preserved scarab beetles on the ancient burial ground of Saqqara.
In December, another well-preserved, colorfully decorated tomb of a high priest, untouched for 4,400 years, was also unearthed by archaeologists.