"It's only the beginning," is how Egypt's antiquities minister on Saturday described a find made at a site near the country's famed pyramids at an ancient necropolis south of Cairo. The discovery—which includes a mummification workshop and a shaft, used as a communal burial place—is located at the Saqqara necropolis of Memphis, the first capital of ancient Egypt and home to the three renowned Giza pyramids. The latest find was made at a site that was last excavated in 1900 and hails from the Saite-Persian Period, from 664-404 BC. Down the 100-foot-deep shaft is a host of burial chambers carved into the bedrock lining the sides of two hallways. There lie several mummies, wooden coffins, and sarcophagi, reports the AP.
In the mummification workshop, an embalmer's cachette holding a large collection of pottery vessels, bowls, and measuring cups were found. Archaeologists believe the findings will reveal more about the oils used in the mummification process in the 26th Dynasty. "We are in front of a goldmine of information," said Ramadan Hussein, the head of the German-Egyptian mission, at a press conference. Archaeologists also found a gilded silver mask on the face of a mummy in a badly damaged wooden coffin. The mask, the first to be discovered since 1939, belongs to a priest. "The finding of this mask could be called a sensation," Hussein said. "Very few masks of precious metals have been preserved to the present day, because the tombs of most Ancient Egyptian dignitaries were looted in ancient times."
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