Details of 30 ancient wooden coffins recently discovered in the Egyptian city of Luxor have been revealed by the country’s antiquities authority.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the coffins, decorated with inscriptions and paintings, were found last week in the Asasif Necropolis on the River Nile’s west bank near Luxor.
He said the coffins were for men, women and children from the 22nd dynasty (945-715 BC), and had been collected and hidden by a priest over fears of looting.
The coffins were in two layers, with the ones on top across those below.
Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany said the mummies found in the coffins include 23 adult males, five adult females and two children. He said the coffins were “exceptionally painted and preserved”.
Archaeologists opened the coffins of a man and a woman, both wrapped in cloth. Their gender can be distinguished by the shape of their hands, said Mr Waziri, who explained that ancient women were buried with their hands open while men’s hands were closed.
The two mummies seemed well preserved with the outer wrappings still intact, completely covering their faces and bodies.
Mr El-Anany said further excavations are under way in the necropolis, which includes tombs dating back to the Middle, New Kingdom and Late Periods (1994BC to 332BC).
He said the coffins will be moved in November to the Grand Egyptian Museum that Egypt is building near the famed Giza Pyramids in Cairo.
The museum has been under construction for well over a decade and is intended to showcase Egypt’s ancient treasures while drawing tourists to help fund its future development. Authorities have said the museum will open next year.
The coffins’ discovery is the latest in a series of new finds that Egypt has sought publicity for in the hope of reviving its key tourism sector, which was badly hit by the turmoil following a 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.