Photograph by Nariman El-Mofty, AP for National Geographic
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An ancient mummy is tended to by workers in a 3,500-year-old tomb in Luxor, Egypt.

Photograph by Nariman El-Mofty, AP for National Geographic

3,500-Year-Old Tombs Uncovered in Egypt. One Has a Mummy

The final resting places of two ancient officials contain colorful grave goods, an elaborate mural, and linen-wrapped human remains.

Egyptian officials today announced the discovery and excavation of two tombs found in the necropolis of Dra' Abu el-Naga in Luxor. The tombs, dated to the 18th Dynasty (1550-1292 B.C.) belonged to officials who likely served here at the ancient capital of Thebes, now a UNESCO world heritage site.

The tombs were surveyed and numbered by German Egyptologist Friederike Kampp-Seyfried in the 1990s. At the time, the tomb known as Kampp 161 was never opened, while the tomb identified as Kampp 150 was only excavated to its entrance. The tombs were recently re-discovered and excavated by Egyptian archaeologists.

The names of the officials buried in the tombs remains unknown, as no inscriptions bearing the names of the tombs' occupants have yet been found. In April, the tomb of an 18th Dynasty magistrate named Userhat was discovered in the same necropolis.

Kampp 161 likely dates to the reigns of Amenhotep II or Thutmose IV, based on stylistic and architectural comparisons with other tombs in the area, making it around 3,400 years old. The western wall of the tomb features an elaborate depiction of a social event, possibly a banquet, with a figure presenting offerings to the tomb's occupant and his wife. Wooden funerary masks, the remains of furniture, and a decorated coffin were discovered in the tomb.

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Kampp 150 most likely dates to the reign of Thutmose I—roughly a century earlier than Kampp 161—based on a cartouche found in the tomb. While no name-bearing inscription was found, many funerary seals bearing the names of a writer named Maati and his wife Mohi, found in the tomb's courtyard, may hint at the identification of the tomb's occupant. Archaeologists found colorful wooden statues, funerary masks and a linen-wrapped mummy in the tomb.

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An Egyptian guard monitors the entrance of a 3,500-year-old tomb where a mummy was recently discovered.

“It’s the first time to enter these two tombs,” Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany told the large crowd of reporters assembled for a press conference.

While foreign archaeological expeditions have had a long history in the excavation of Egypt's ancient sites, a senior official with the Ministry of Antiquities noted that the re-discovery and excavation of the tombs by Egyptian archaeologists reflects the growing professionalism and expertise of the country's native scientific community.