Entering a tomb near the famed Valley of the Kings for the first time, a team of Egyptian archaeologists has made what they are labeling an "important discovery."
Several mummies, 10 wooden sarcophagi, and more than 1,000 funerary statues were discovered inside a 3,500-year-old tomb. Erected during Egypt's 18th Dynasty, the tomb is thought to have belonged to an ancient Egyptian magistrate named Userhat, who belonged to Egypt's noble class.
The find was made by Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities during a dig and was the first time the tomb has been examined.
Speaking to the Luxor Times about the discovery, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany noted that the find was significant for the numbers of items found and the intact condition in which they were discovered.
"This tomb was known from the outside, but we have never been inside," he said during a press conference with reporters.
During the coming weeks, the team plans to continue excavation and hopes to find more artifacts.
The tomb is arranged in a "T" shape that opens with a courtyard, before narrowing into a long hall with a corridor that leads to an inner chamber. Nearly 16,000 cubic feet of debris had to be removed to expose the tomb's opening.
During the dig, a shaft extending from the main burial hall was found, revealing two small rooms. The first held a collection of ushabti figurines, and the second was home to sarcophagi and linen-wrapped mummies from what the research team believes to be the 21st Dynasty.
In an interview with reporters, El-Enany explained that the tomb might have been used as a possible cachette, or hideout, after its initial construction.
The tomb was located near the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis on the Nile's west bank, which is situated near Ancient Egypt's famed Valley of the Kings. Located near the ancient capital of Luxor, the Valley of the Kings was the final resting place of some of Egypt's most famed rulers, including the young King Tutankhamen. Luxor, which sat to the east of the Nile, was the epicenter of life during Egypt's 18th Dynasty.
Egyptians from the ruling and upper classes were buried to the west of the Nile as a sign of reverence.
The Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt is optimistic that the find will increase tourism in the region. Following a wave of protests that removed former military and political leader Hosni Mubarak from power, tourism, a major economic driver in Egypt, has significantly declined.
Two adjacent tombs are currently being excavated in an effort to unearth their ancient artifacts.