Egypt announces discovery of 3,500-year-old tombs in Luxor

Country hopes find will boost tourism industry, which has been suffering since 2011 uprising

Egyptian archaeologists with a newly discovered mummy at Luxor’. Photograph: Khaled Elfiqi/EPA

Egypt has announced the discovery of two small tombs in the southern city of Luxor dating back about 3,500 years, a find the government hopes will help revive the country’s ailing tourism sector.

The tombs, located on the west bank of the Nile in a cemetery for noblemen and top officials, are the latest discovery in the city famed for its temples and tombs spanning different dynasties of ancient Egyptian history.

“It’s truly an exceptional day,” the antiquities minister, Khaled al-Anani, said. “The 18th-dynasty private tombs were already known. But it’s the first time to enter inside the two tombs.”

Anani said the discoveries were part of the ministry’s efforts to promote Egypt’s tourism industry, partially driven by antiquities, that was hit by extremist attacks and political turmoil following the 2011 uprising.

The ministry said one tomb has a courtyard lined with mud-brick and stone walls and contained a six-metre burial shaft leading to four side chambers. The artefacts found inside were mostly fragments of wooden coffins. Wall inscriptions and paintings suggest it belongs to era between the reigns of King Amenhotep II and King Thutmose IV, both pharaohs of the 18th dynasty.

The other tomb has five entrances leading to a rectangular hall and contains two burial shafts located in the northern and southern sides of the tomb.

Among the artefacts found inside are funerary cones, painted wooden funerary masks, clay vessels, about 450 statues and a mummy wrapped in linen who was probably a top official. A cartouche carved on the ceiling bears the name of King Thutmose I of the early 18th dynasty, according to the ministry.

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