Archaeologists in Egypt were able to announce in
1999 the discovery of at least two hundred mummies, some of them
with golden masks, which were contained in a huge cemetery in
Egypt's Western Desert.
The burial ground, which lay near a desert oasis,
was believed to contain more than ten thousand mummies, making it
the biggest haul to have been uncovered so far, according to Egypt's
Middle East News Agency.
The area, which fell within the borders of the city
of Bawiti, three hundred kilometres (185 miles) to the south-west of
Cairo, had been renamed the 'Valley of the Mummies', according to the
Fifty mummies were found in each of four rooms in
the cemetery which was 9.6 kilometres long (six miles) and dated back
to the early Greco-Roman era of just over two thousand years ago.
This was the time at which the Hellenic Ptolemies
were losing their power in the face of increasing Roman domination
of the Middle East and Africa. The mummies included wealthy people
and some rulers, reported Gaballah Ali Gaballah, head of Egypt's
Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Cairo and Giza antiquities director, Zahi Hawass,
said the first two hundred mummies were uncovered after a four-year
excavation. At the time at which the discovery was reported, he told
the news agency that some of the mummies wore golden masks 'with
magnificent designs of ancient Egyptian divinities on their chests'.
Others were coated in plaster or covered with linen
and some lay in terracotta sarcophagi bearing representations of the
Mr Hawass said work would continue until the rest
were uncovered, even though it seems that Egypt already had so many
mummies that the antiquities department sometimes struggled to keep